Sandigan upholds LP treasurer’s graft conviction
THE Sandiganbayan Fourth Division on Monday found Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali Jr., also treasurer of the Liberal Party, guilty of graft in connection with the anomalous grant of P2.5 million loan to a private person two decades ago.
In a resolution, the antigraft court sentenced to six to 10 years imprisonment Umali, who is also president of the League of Provinces of the Philippines, former Oriental Mindoro Governor and Congressman Rodolfo Valencia, and former Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Romualdo Bawasanta.
Umali, Valencia and Bawasanta were also penalized with the loss of retirement and gratuity benefits, perpetual disqualification from public office and reimbursement of the P2.5 million loan.
They were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt for granting in January 1994 a P2.5 million loan to Engr. Alfredo Atienza to finance the cost of repair, operation and maintenance of the private vessel M/V ACE owned by Atienza. Umali was then a provincial administrator while Valencia was then governor.
Umali as provincial administrator certified the disbursement as lawful and necessary, Valencia signed the release of the amount, and Bawasanta as provincial council member authorized and ratified the loan, the court said.
The court said the loan was illegal because it constituted public funds loaned to an engineer for the private interests of his shipping business.
It also said the loan was issued without collateral, and that the interest of the provincial government as creditor for the vessel is non-existent.
“For all intents, the credit agreement is grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the finances of the provincial government; it is in violation of the law as it was undertaken for a private purpose; it burdened the provincial government with financial obligations; and it had no security or guarantee from Atienza from its payment,” the court said in its decision.
The antigraft court essentially reiterated its 2008 decision convicting them of graft after the case was re-opened for another trial in 2009. AC
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