The prosecution is asking the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division to deny for lack of merit the request of Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali Jr. to travel abroad, saying he is a flight risk.
Umali is seeking the court’s permission to let him travel to Milan, Italy from June 14 to 29.
“The prosecution maintains that accused/movant is a flight risk, especially because he has already been convicted in the above-captioned criminal offense by the Honorable Court last April 20, 2015,” the prosecution said in a Comment/Opposition filed on May 20.
Earlier, the anti-graft court held Umali and two others guilty of graft in connection with provincial funds loaned to a private individual in 2004.
“Notwithstanding the fact that he filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which is now pending resolution before the Honorable Court, the same will not alter the fact of his conviction,” the prosecution said, adding that the court will need that he be “at its arms’ length” at any given time in the event his appeal is denied.
There are other “equally or even more qualified” officials without a pending case and risk of flight who may attend to the task, it pointed out.
Last May 19, Umali filed a Motion to Travel Abroad “so he can participate in the Global Forum on Remittance and Development (International Fund for Agricultural Development Financing for Remittance) and serve as a speaker at the PINOYWIST Overseas Market Place Event.”
But the prosecution argued that the present conviction is a restraint to his constitutional right to travel.
In its Decision last April, the court sentenced Umali, former lawmaker Rodolfo Valencia and former Provincial board member Romualdo Bawasanta to six to 10 years in prison and told them to reimburse the province in the amount of P2.5 million.
The case stemmed from a contract of loan where the said provincial funds were given to private respondent Alfredo Atienza to finance the cost of repair, operation and maintenance of his vessel MV Ace intended to ply the Calapan-Batangas-Calapan sea route.
At the time, Valencia was governor while Umali, who is also treasurer of the Liberal Party, was provincial administrator.