The Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division thumbed down the plea of former Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) officials Prospero Pichay Jr. and Wilfredo Feleo to dismiss the graft complaint filed against them in connection with the alleged release of P1.5 million to the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) in 2010.
Pichay, who is now a congressional representative of Surigao del Sur, and Feleo earlier filed a motion seeking the junking of the case claiming their right to speedy case disposition was violated.
“After examining the issues and arguments raised by the parties, the Court believes that the motion to quash should be denied,” the anti-graft court said.
The Office of the Ombudsman charged Pichay, the former NCFP President and Acting Chairman of LWUA’s Board of Trustees, along with Feleo and former Senior Deputy Administrator and Acting Administrator Emmanuel Malicdem in October last year over the alleged release of P1.5 million to the NCFP in 2010.
NCFP’s request for financial sponsorship for a chess tournament was allegedly approved despite LWUA’s austerity measure that prohibited the release of funds for sports and cultural activities.
The Ombudsman’s office also filed a related breach of conduct case against Pichay, alleging that he had financial or material interest in the transaction that required his office’s approval.
According to the prosecution, there was no inordinate delay because the Ombudsman’s office only took two years and 11 months to resolve the cases from the time the respondents filed their counter-affidavits in November 2013 until the cases were filed in court.
The defense had argued that the Ombudsman’s office took three years, six months and 39 days to finish its investigation.
But the court’s Fifth Division dismissed their appeal.
Associate Justice Rafael Lagos, who is the acting chairperson of the court’s Fifth Division, penned the ruling which was concurred in by Associate Justices Reynaldo Cruz and Ma. Theresa Mendoza-Arcega. REINA TOLENTINO