Sen. Honasan fails to post bail on graft charges

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(Updated with Honasan failing to post bail)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 10) — Sen. Gringo Honasan failed to post bail on his graft charges, as the Sandiganbayan Division 2 closed at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.

The Sandiganbayan earlier issued the Senator a warrant of arrest over the alleged misuse of his P29.1-million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel in 2012.

This follows the Office of the Ombudsman's filing of the case against the senator and his co-accused on August 1.

Honasan may post bail once arrested.

Sandiganbayan sheriff Albert Dela Cruz said the arrest warrant has been forwarded to law enforcement agencies.

Others in the arrest warrant are: project coordinator Michael Benjamin, National Council on Muslim Affairs officials, namely, Secretary Mehol Sadain, acting chief accountant Fedelina Aldanese, cashier Olga Galido, Giovanni Manuel Gaerlan, and Salvador Gaerlan.

The Ombudsman said that on May 30, 2012, Honasan authorized the payment of ₱29.1 million to non-government organization Focus Development Goals Foundation, Inc. in two tranches, without following procurement rules.

Honasan, however, denied the allegations, saying he is "completely innocent of the charges" against him.

"All my life I have fought everything I am accused of, and I will continue to do so," he said in a statement Thursday.

Honasan is facing two counts of graft for violating Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for "giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence."

If found guilty, Honasan may face imprisonment of up to 10 years and perpetual disqualification from public office.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales first ordered the filing of charges against Honasan on September 26, 2016.

"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 said.

Honasan's PDAF was meant to finance livelihood projects for Muslim communities in Metro Manila and Zambales province, with the National Council of Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) as implementing agency.

Early this year, the Ombudsman dismissed from public service Honasan's co-accused, including Benjamin, Sadain, Aldanese, Director III Galay Makalinggan, Chief Sania Busran, Acting Chief Aurora Aragon-Mabang, and Galido.

The Ombudsman said Honasan did not submit a counter-affidavit during its investigation.

The Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional the PDAF or pork barrel in 2013, following a multibillion-peso scam where businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles allegedly funneled funds to fake NGOs.

A number of lawmakers were tagged as beneficiaries of the scam, including Senators Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, and Juan Ponce Enrile. Revilla and Estrada are detained while the Supreme Court allowed Enrile to post bail because of his old age and frail health.

CNN Philippines' AC Nicholls and Eimor Santos contributed to this report.