In his opposition filed before the Sandiganbayan Second Division, Honasan, through his lawyer Dennis Manalo, said the motion of the ombudsman’s prosecution panel must be denied as it violates his constitutional right to due process and to security of a fixed tenure.
Senate PRIB/Edward Ganal, File
Honasan hits ombudsman suspension bid over ‘pork’ scam
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - August 28, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Gregorio Honasan II has slammed as “unconstitutional” the Office of the Ombudsman’s motion seeking his preventive suspension for graft cases over the alleged misuse of P30 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel in 2012.

In his opposition filed before the Sandiganbayan Second Division, Honasan, through his lawyer Dennis Manalo, said the motion of the ombudsman’s prosecution panel must be denied as it violates his constitutional right to due process and to security of a fixed tenure.

Honasan pointed out that the prosecution was seeking an indefinite period of his suspension even if the Supreme Court (SC) in a previous ruling had already declared that suspension for an indefinite period shall be “abhorred” for being oppressive and violative of the Constitution. 

“If he could be preventively suspended indefinitely until the final determination of the charges against him, then the provisions of the Constitution as to the fixed period of his tenure would be meaningless. In the guise of a preventive suspension, his term of office could be shortened and he could, in effect, be removed without a finding of guilt duly established after due hearing, in violation of the Constitution,” Honasan’s opposition paper read.

In its motion filed on July 31, the prosecution said Honasan’s preventive suspension is mandatory under Section 13 of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices law. The prosecution, however, did not indicate in its motion the number of days Honasan must be suspended.

The prosecution argued that under Section 13 of RA 3019, an incumbent public official facing cases of violation of RA 3019, Book II Title 7 of the Revised Penal Code, or of any offense involving fraud upon government or public funds, shall be suspended to prevent him “from using his office to intimidate witnesses or frustrate his prosecution or continue committing malfeasance in office.”

Honasan said aside from being unconstitutional, the prosecution’s motion was also “premature” as he still has a pending petition for certiorari before the SC assailing the Second Division’s Sept. 22, 2017 ruling denying his motion to dismiss the cases.

Honasan said the Second Division must await the SC’s ruling on his petition before acting on the prosecution’s motion in observance of the rule on judicial courtesy. Honasan pointed out that if the SC rules in his favor, it will lead to the dismissal of the cases against him for lack of probable cause.

“The motion is patently designed in order to remove (me) from office even before the (SC) has a chance to determine whether this criminal prosecution should even proceed against (me) or not,” Honasan said.

“Unless the issue of the validity of this criminal prosecution against (me) is resolved by the (SC), the prosecution should be precluded from seeking (my) indefinite preventive suspension. This is the essence of judicial courtesy,” he added.

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 law.

GREGORIO HONASAN II PRIORITY DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE FUND
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