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Sandigan junks Pichay’s supplemental motion to reverse conviction

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has rejected the bid of Surigao del Sur first district Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr. to submit additional arguments in support of his motion to reverse his conviction in connection with the anomalous sponsorship of a chess tournament in 2010.

In a resolution promulgated on Tuesday, the anti-graft court’s fifth division said Pichay’s supplemental motion was filed beyond the 15-day reglementary period from the promulgation of its decision that found him guilty of graft.

“The supposed supplement to the motion for reconsideration is being sought to be admitted to amplify the arguments set forth in the motion for reconsideration. However, no specific reason was stated to justify the need for such amplification,” the court said.

Pichay, Local Water Utilities Administration senior deputy administrator Emmanuel Malicdem and former LWUA acting deputy administrator for investment and financial services Wilfredo Feleo were convicted of graft last  Oct. 23 and sentenced to up to eight years in prison. They were also perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

The three former LWUA officials were directed to reimburse the agency P1.5 million, which is equivalent to the amount released for the sponsorship grant.

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

Pichay and his co-accused are out on bail as their motions for reconsideration remain pending in court.

In filing the cases 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 court said Pichay “possessed financial and material interest” in sponsoring the tournament as he was chairman not only of LWUA but also of NCFP at the time.

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

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