Ex-NCMF exec, 2 others charged with graft over Hajj deal

MANILA -- The Office of the Ombudsman has charged with graft former National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) secretary Yasmin Lao and two others for the alleged irregular housing accommodation for 3,000 Filipino pilgrims in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj Season in 2014.

The Ombudsman charged Yao before the Sandiganbayan with one count of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Also named as respondents in the case were former NCMF chief of staff Norodin Lomondot, and hotel marketing director Ahmed Khalil.

The Ombudsman charged Yao with "acting with evident bad faith, manifest partiality, and/or gross inexcusable negligence" when she and her co-accused favored Khalil, who was then director of sales and marketing of Al-Rayah Hotels.

In the case information, Khalil was also the classmate of Lomondot.

Yao and Lomondot allegedly gave unwarranted benefits to Khalil, when they entered a housing contract for Filipino pilgrims in Makkah Al-Mukarramah for the Hajj.

The pilgrims were given accommodations at the Al-Rayah Hotels and Al Khozai Tower, which was then still under construction.

The Ombudsman argued that both establishments were neither accredited nor had any necessary permit from the Ministry of Hajj at the time the contract was entered.

The contract allegedly failed to adhere to guidelines issued by the Ministry of Hajj and that there were other hotels ready for occupancy and offering suitable services for the pilgrims.

The Ombudsman has recommended a PHP30,000 bail bond for each of the three respondents.

Source: Philippine News Agency