Liberal Party treasurer Umali gets up to 10 years for graft

By PATRICIA DENISE CHIU, GMA News – Source Link

A ranking member of the ruling Liberal Party on Monday was sentenced to up to 10 years in jail after the Sandiganbayan found him guilty of violating the anti-graft and corrupt practices act.

The anti-graft court convicted Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso Umali for approving an anomalous loan worth P2.5 million in 1994. Former Gov. Rodolfo Valencia and board member Romualdo Bawasanta were also found guilty of the same offense.

Umali serves as the treasurer of the Liberal Party. President Benigno Aquino III, who ran and won on a platform of transparency, reform, and anti-corruption, heads the party

In a 37-page resolution, the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division found Valencia and Umali guilty of approving an anomalous loan to engineer Alfredo Atienza in 1994. The court said Valencia, who was governor at the time, and Umali, who served as provincial administrator, defrauded the government of P2.5M when they approved Atienza’s loan for the “repair, operations, and maintenance” of transport vessel MV Ace, even when the vessel in question was privately owned.

“This prohibition against the use of public funds for private purposes, aside from it being dictated by law upon the accused, was at the same time reiterated to them in categorical terms by the provincial treasurer and the auditor. Yet with manifest partiality in favor of Atienza and evident bad faith, accused chose to ignore their legal limitation,” the decision penned by Justice Jose Hernandez said.

This is the second time Umali and Valencia were sentenced for the same crime. In 2008, the Sandiganbayan found that the loan anomalous and and sentenced the two to imprisonment of up to 10 years for the misuse of public funds.

During the first trial, Valencia and Umali did not present their own evidence in court. After their guilty verdict, they appealed to the anti-graft court to re-open the case in order to present counter-evidence.

In addition to 10 years in jail, the court ordered Valencia, Umali and Bawasanta to pay P2.5M in damages to the provincial government.

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