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Honasan faces graft over PDAF

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the filing of graft charges against Senator Gregorio Honasan and nine others for their involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

Honasan is set to face trial before the Sandiganbayan for two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).

In its in-depth investigation, the Ombudsman found that in April 2012, the Department of Budget and Management released R30 million as part of the lawmaker’s PDAF with the National Council of Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) as implementing agency.

The fund was intended to finance small and medium livelihood projects for the benefit of Muslim Filipinos in communities in the National Capital Region and Zambales.

Documents showed that in June 2012, Honasan indorsed Focus Development Goals Foundation, Inc. as NGO-partner without the benefit of compliance with procurement regulations.

In its resolution, the Ombudsman said the check dated May 30, 2012 and disbursement voucher approving the payment “were prepared by public respondents in favor of Focus even before (1) the NGO was informed that it was found qualified to undertake the project on 04 June 2012; (2) the MOA was signed by the Office of Senator Honasan, NCMF and Focus; and (3) Honasan authorized the release of funds to Focus.”

Honasan and the other respondents facilitated and approved the payment in favor of Focus via two tranches totaling R29.1 million.

Despite issuance of an order, Senator Honasan did not submit his counter-affidavit during the investigation.

“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,” said Morales.