Ombudsman indicts Senator Honasan, nine others over alleged PDAF misuse


(Eagle News) — Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the indictment of Senator Gregorio Honasan and nine others for their alleged involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Ombudsman said Honasan is set to face trial before the Sandiganbayan for two counts of violation of Republic Act Section 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices after he “facilitated and approved the payment” of P29.1 million to Focus Development Goals Foundation, Inc., a nongovernment organization, “without the benefit of compliance with procurement regulations.”

Also facing graft charges are political affairs and project coordinator chief Michael Benjamin, and National Council of Muslim Filipinos Secretary Mehol Sadain; acting chief accountant Fedelina Aldanese; director III Galay Makalinggan; Sania Busran; Aurora Aragon-Mabang; and Olga Galido.

Also included in the information are Focus officers Giovanni Manuel Gaerlan and Salvador Gaerlan.

According to the Ombudsman, the P29.1 million were part of Honasan’s P30-million PDAF ¬†with the NCMF as implementing agency, intended to “finance small- and medium-enterprise/livelihood projects for the benefit of Muslim Filipinos in communities in the National Capital Region and Zambales.”

Focus had been endorsed by Honasan as an NGO-partner for the project in June 2012, and he and the other respondents¬†“facilitated and approved the payment” in two tranches “even before the NGO was informed that it was found qualified to undertake the project on June 4, 2012” and before “the (memorandum of agreement) was signed by the Office of Senator Honasan, NCMF and Focus,” the Ombudsman said.

“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,” Morales noted.

The Ombudsman added Honasan failed to submit a counter-affidavit during the investigation despite the issuance of an order.