Anti-graft court orders arrest of Senator Honasan over PDAF scam
MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Thursday, August 10, ordered Senator Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan II arrested for two counts of graft over the alleged misuse of his pork barrel in 2012.
The senator was expected to post his P60,000 bail – P30,000 per count – within the day, according to information from different sources. When the court closed on Thursday, however, the senator was nowhere in sight.
Sandiganbayan chief sherriff Albert dela Cruz said the warrant was fielded to teams from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the National Bureau of Investigation.
Under the rules, the warrant can be served anytime. Dela Cruz said that should Honasan be arrested on Thursday, the arresting team may take custody of the senator over night until he is able to post bail.
Honasan was not seen in the Senate on Thursday.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Honasan said: "I am completely innocent of the charges against me. All my life I have fought everything I am accused of, and I will continue to do so."
Also ordered arrested are Honasan's co-accused: Michael Benjamin, Mehol Kiram Sadain, Fedelina Dimalanta Aldenese, Olga Sajise Galido, Giovanni Manuel Gaerlan, Salvador Gaerlan, Galay Mokamad Makalinggan, and Aurora Ocular Aragon-Mabang.
Aragon-Mabang, Galido, Sadain, and Aldanese have posted bail, according to the court.
Honasan was charged on August 1. The charges were raffled to the 2nd division of Sandiganbayan on August 4.
Honasan is accused of skirting procurement rules when he allotted P30 million from his Priority Development Assistance Fund for livelihood projects for Muslim communities.
The project in 2012 was coursed through implementing agency National Council of Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) and non-govermental organization (NGO) Focus Development Goals Foundation.
Prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman alleged that disbursement vouchers and checks were already prepared for Focus Development even though the NGO had not been informed of the project at the time.
Checks were also signed before the memorandum of agreement between Honasan, NCMF, and Focus Development was signed.
The Commission on Audit (COA) first flagged Honasan's transaction with Focus Development in a special report for 2014, and even recommended that the NGO 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.
Senator Richard Gordon, who chairs the committee of justice and human rights, clarified that "when you’re issued an arrest warrant, it doesn’t mean you’re guilty, but that there is a probable cause. The court just wants you to be there to answer."
In a phone interview on Thursday, he said: "I know Senator Gringo is upright.... I’m sure he will answer which charges in court. I think he will do that…. I don’t think he will just blow or fly the hoof...knowing him." – Rappler.com