Pichay gets 8 years over P1.5 million graft
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - October 24, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines  — Surigao del Sur first district Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr. may spend up to eight years in prison over the anomalous sponsorship of a chess tournament when he was chairman of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) in 2010.

In a 31-page decision promulgated yesterday, the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division said Pichay, former LWUA senior deputy administrator Emmanuel Malicdem and former acting deputy administrator for investment and financial services Wilfredo Feleo were found guilty of violating Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The three former LWUA officials were sentenced to six to eight years in prison and ordered perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

The anti-graft court also directed them to reimburse P1.5 million to LWUA, which is equivalent to the amount released for the sponsorship grant.

Pichay was also found guilty of violating the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. He was ordered to pay a fine of P5,000.

The case filed against former LWUA administrator Daniel Landingin was ordered dismissed due to his death in 2016.

The Office of the Ombudsman said Pichay and his co-accused conspired in the release of P1.5 million in sponsorship grant to the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) for the 2nd Chairman Prospero Pichay Jr. Cup International Chess Championship.

The anti-graft court agreed with the ombudsman’s position that Pichay “possessed financial and material interest” in sponsoring the tournament as he was the chairman not only of LWUA but also of NCFP.

The sponsorship grant also violated an administrative order at the time calling on government agencies to adopt austerity measures as well as a LWUA memorandum suspending sponsorships of sports and cultural activities, the court said.

Pichay said he would appeal the court ruling.

”My conscience is clear. I did not benefit from that program. I even shelled out P1 million from my pocket,” he told The STAR.

“While I respect the decision of the Sandiganbayan, I will file a motion for reconsideration because I don’t see any proof or basis for that decision,” Pichay said. – Edu Punay

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