By CZARINA NICOLE O. ONG
Two graft charges were filed yesterday against Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II before the Sandiganbayan for alleged misuse of his P29.1-million priority development assistance fund (PDAF) back in 2012.
Honasan, the fourth senator to face criminal charges in the Sandiganbayan because of PDAF, was slapped with two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (R.A. 3019).
He was indicted for releasing his PDAF to the National Council of Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) in April 2012, which was meant to help small and medium-scale livelihood projects for Muslim Filipinos in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Zambales.
Honasan endorsed Focus Development Goals Foundation, Inc. on June 2012 as the implementing non-government organization (NGO).
However, Ombudsman investigators discovered that the NGO was endorsed even without the benefit of compliance with procurement regulations.
At the same time, the check and disbursement voucher dated May 30, 2012 were prepared for Focus even before the NGO was informed it was qualified to undertake the project on June 4, 2012, according to the Ombudsman.
“The repeated illegal transfers of public funds to the NGO, resulted in the quantifiable, pecuniary losses to the Government, thus constituting undue injury within the context of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019,” the Ombudsman said in September 21, 2016 resolution.
Charged together with Honasan were Political Affairs and Project Coordinator Chief Michael Benjamin, NCMF executives such as Secretary Mehol Sadain, Acting Chief Accountant Fedelina Aldanese, Director III Galay Makalinggan, Acting Chief Aurora Aragon-Mabang, and Cashier Olga Galido.
Private individuals from Focus – Giovanni Manuel Gaerlan and Salvador Gaerlan – were likewise charged.