Ombudsman seeks Honasanâs suspension for âporkâ raps
Sen. Gregorio Honasan II is facing before the Second Division two counts of violation of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Senate PRIB/Romy Bugante

Ombudsman seeks Honasan’s suspension for ‘pork’ raps

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - August 26, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — State prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman have urged the Sandiganbayan to order the preventive suspension of Sen. Gregorio Honasan II who is facing graft cases for his alleged misuse of P30 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel in 2012.

“The presumption is that unless the accused is suspended, he may frustrate his prosecution or commit further acts of malfeasance or do both,” the ombudsman’s prosecution panel said in its motion filed with the anti-graft court’s Second Division on July 31, a copy of which was released to the media over the weekend.

Honasan is facing before the Second Division two counts of violation of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The prosecution said under Section 13 of RA 3019, the suspension of an incumbent public official is “mandatory” if he is charged under a valid case of violation of RA 3019, Book II Title 7 of the Revised Penal Code, or of any offense involving fraud on government or public funds.

“It is now settled that Section 13 of (RA) 3019 makes it mandatory for the Sandiganbayan to suspend (Honasan),” the prosecution said quoting a previous Supreme Court ruling.

The prosecution also stressed that the preventive suspension is not a penalty “but a procedural aspect of the criminal cases” that must be imposed by the courts as it is “mandatory” in nature.

The Second Division has yet to rule on the motion.

Filed by the ombudsman in August last year, the graft cases against Honasan stemmed from the alleged misuse of P30 million of his PDAF for the supposed implementation of his programs and projects for Muslim Filipinos in Metro Manila and Zambales.

The ombudsman said Honasan “unilaterally chose and endorsed” the non-government organization Focus on Development Goals Foundation Inc. to be the implementer of the projects, without the benefit of a public bidding required under RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The ombudsman said Honasan and his co-accused officials of the National Council on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) instead entered into a negotiated procurement with Focus “(absent) any appropriation law or ordinance” for such mode of procurement.

Based on the ombudsman’s record, a total of P30 million of Honasan’s PDAF was released by the Department of Budget and Management to NCMF in April 2012 as the implementing agency for the livelihood projects.

The ombudsman said the respondent NCMF officials processed the payment of a total of P29.1 million, given in two tranches, to Focus “with unusual accommodation and haste.”

Named as Honasan’s co-accused in the cases were his political affairs and project coordinator Michael Benjamin, NCMF director Galay Makalinggan, acting chief Aurora Aragon-Mabang, secretary Mehol Sadain, acting chief accountant Fedelina Aldanese and cashier Olga Galido.

Salvador Gaerlan, president of Focus, was also named in the cases as a private respondent.

Honasan was arraigned on Sept. 22 last year, refusing to enter a plea. The Second Division, in turn, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf, in accordance with the Rules of Court.

All the other respondents have pleaded “not guilty.”

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