Former Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Chairman Prospero Pichay Jr. decried his “continued political persecution” after the Office of the Ombudsman filed a graft case against him and two other former LWUA officials over the alleged release of P1.5 million to the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) in 2010.
The Ombudsman said the NCFP’s request for financial sponsorship for the Chairman Prospero Pichay Jr. Cup International Chess Championship was approved despite LWUA’s austerity measure that prohibited the release of funds for sports and cultural activities.
“[T]here’s nothing at all irregular with the LWUA sponsorship for a National Sports Association like the NCFP. What is irregular is that the Ombudsman continues to have a vendetta against the members of the Arroyo administration with trumped-up charges that will ultimately be dismissed by the courts,” Pichay, who now represents Surigao del Sur at the House of Representatives, said in a statement.
The tournament sponsorship was approved by the LWUA board as part of its regular allocation for sports and cultural development, he said.
Pichay added that the Constitution itself provides for the promotion of sports.
“They must be going crazy. I have long spent my personal funds just for the sake of promoting chess in the Philippines. My only benefit from being with the NCFP is the satisfaction of seeing more youth get into chess,” he said.
“My name was put there in the tournament by the members of the NCFP in thanks for my having spearheaded chess development for almost a decade, and to more easily draw sponsorships from our many friends. But afterwards, I already insisted that they remove my name from this annual event,” he added.
The Ombudsman also filed a related case of breach of conduct against Pichay, alleging that he had financial or material interest in the said transaction which required his office’s approval.