THE Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to file a graft case at the Sandiganbayan against former Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Chairman Prospero Pichay Jr. and several others in connection with the allegedly illegal payment of P1.5-million sponsorship grant given to the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) in August 2010.
The charge was for alleged violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Also ordered charged were former LWUA executives Daniel Landingin, Emmanuel Malicdem and Wilfredo Feleo.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Ombudsman’s office said documents show that Pichay, et al. approved and facilitated the sponsorship of the 2nd Chairman Prospero Pichay Jr. Cup International Chess Championship.
“Feleo, Malicdem and Landingin were manifestly partial to NCFP, a private organization headed by their superior, Pichay,” it said.
The Ombudsman’s office added that “the allocation is excessive and dubious, especially since holding or sponsoring sporting events like chess tournaments is not among LWUA’s primary purposes.”
“NCFP received the sponsorship amount from the LWUA only because of its association with Pichay, not because it was legally entitled to it,” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales alleged.
Section 3(e) of the anti-graft law prohibits public officials from causing undue injury to any party, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of their official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.
Under the rules, the respondents have the opportunity to file motions for reconsideration of the Ombudsman’s ruling.
Aside from the graft charge, the Ombudsman found sufficient grounds to charge Pichay for alleged violation of Section 7(a) of RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
“Pichay’s financial and material interest in the NCFP’s sponsorship request is undeniable” as “the sponsorship sought by the chess organization was intended for a tournament named in Pichay’s honor,” the Ombudsman said.
Section 7(a) of RA 6713 prohibits public officials from having any direct or indirect financial or material interest in any transaction requiring the approval of their office.