MANILA, Philippines – Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II was charged with two counts of graft on Tuesday, August 1, over the alleged diversion of his pork barrel, making him the 4th senator to be officially made answerable for the multi-billion-peso scam.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed the charges with the Sandiganbayan for Honasan’s alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund in 2012. He is charged for violation of Section 3e of the anti-graft law or causing injury to the government or giving unwarranted benefits to a private party.
Based on the Ombudsman’s indictment of Honasan in September 2016, the Senator funded P30 million worth of livelihood and enterprise projects for Muslim communities in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Zambales.
Honasan used the National Council of Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) as implementing agency, and Focus Development Goals Foundation Incorporated as the beneficiary group.
According to the Ombudsman’s indictment, the transaction was irregular because Honasan did not follow procurement rules.
For example, disbursement vouchers and checks were already prepared, with Focus Development as the payee, when the non-governmental organizations had not been informed of the project at the time.
The check was also signed before the memorandum of agreement between Honasan, NCMF, and Focus Development was signed.
The Ombudsman said Honasan approved the payment of P29.1 million to Focus Development.
Honasan’s transaction with Focus Development was first flagged by the Commission on Audit in its special report for 2014. COA recommended then that Focus Development should be blacklisted from government transactions.
Honasan is the 4th senator to be charged in court over the pork barrel scam, although the 3 others involved in the pork barrel scam are facing plunder charges.
Former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr are charged with plunder, as witnesses say they are connected to alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles – who gave them commissions after getting their PDAF for ghost projects and fake foundations and NGOs.
Senator Joel Villanueva was earlier indicted of two counts of graft, and one count each of Malversation of Public Funds and Malversation thru Falsification of Public Documents.
His indictment stems from the alleged misuse of P10 million worth of his pork barrel in 2008 when he was the congressional representative of the Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption.
Villanueva was also dismissed upon his indictment in 2016, but the Senate defied the Ombudsman’s orders and ruled it can discipline its own member.
Villanueva’s charges have yet to be filed in court. – Rappler.com