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Sandigan clears Pichay, 2 others in graft case

Delon Porcalla, Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - March 4, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has reversed its earlier decision convicting Surigao del Sur First District Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr. and two former officials of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) of graft for sponsoring a chess tournament amounting to P1.5 million in 2010.

In a 24-page resolution promulgated on March 1, the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division granted the joint motion for reconsideration of Pichay, former LWUA senior deputy administrator Emmanuel Malicdem and former acting deputy administrator for investment and financial services Wilfredo Feleo, which sought the reversal of their conviction last year.

In October 2020, the Fifth Division found Pichay, Malicdem and Feleo guilty of graft.

They were sentenced to up to eight years in prison and perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

Filed by the ombudsman in 2016, the cases stemmed from the sponsorship of a chess tournament in August 2010 during Pichay’s term as LWUA chairman.

In its new ruling, the Fifth Division said a “second hard look” at the evidence presented during the trial showed that the respondents did not act with malice or evident bad faith in sponsoring the chess tournament.

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