Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali Jr. is asking the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division to let him present witnesses in order to beef up an appeal he filed asking the reversal of the court’s guilty verdict.
Last April, the anti-graft court sentenced Umali – who is Treasurer of the Liberal Party – along with former lawmaker Rodolfo Valencia and former provincial board member Romualdo Bawasanta to up to 10 years in prison and told them to reimburse the province in the amount of P2.5 million.
The prosecution is opposing Umali’s request saying he was already given “excessive due process.”
“Since the resources of the government are being utilized to secure a conviction, accused Umali has every right to exhaust all legal remedies available under the law,” the defense said.
Umali said he was not given an opportunity to present the intended witnesses because it was only after the court’s decision came that the matter regarding two Sanggunian Resolutions arose.
He was referring to Resolution No. 169-93 that authorized Valencia, who was then Governor (Umali was provincial administrator at the time), to negotiate with persons for the possible purchase or lease of three passenger vessels that will ply the Calapan-Batangas/Batangas-Calapan sea route and to loan from banks or lending institutions for the purpose.
The court found that while this resolution was not counter to the prohibition on the use of public funds for private purposes, it was not implemented.
What was implemented was Resolution No. 284-93 which granted the loan to private respondent Alfredo Atienza for the repair, maintenance and operation of his vessel – which is covered by the prohibition.
However, the court said the evidence shows that the Sanggunian Resolution No. 284-93 authorized the loan to Atienza for the operation of his vessel.
However, when the province sought funding by securing a P2.5-million loan from Land Bank, the loan contract provided that the amount was to be used to subsidize the purchase of a ferry boat.
In the Credit Agreement between the province and Atienza, however, the purpose of the amount was modified to be for the repair, maintenance, and operation of his vessel.