DEPUTY Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero “Butch” Pichay, Jr. on Saturday maintained innocence from his Sandiganbayan Fifth Division’s graft conviction in connection with the alleged use of government funds for a chess tournament.
I Pichay said he even spent P1 million from his own pocket just to ensure the well-being and competence of the country’s chess players.
“My conscience is clear. I did not benefit any amount from that program. I even shelled out P1 million from my pocket,” said Pichay in response to the ruling of the anti-graft division.
“That Pichay Cup ran for 15 years and it benefitted no one else but chess sporting industry,” said Pichay.
The case stemmed from the P1.5 million grant in 2010 that Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) gave to the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), a private organization.
The deputy speaker was then the acting chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT), Malicdem was the Senior Deputy Administrator and Acting Administrator and Feleo was the Acting Deputy Administrator for Investment and Financial Services of LWUA.
Pichay said he would file a motion for reconsideration to reverse the Sandiganbayan ruling.
“While I respect the decision of the Sandiganbayan, I will file a motion for reconsideration because I don’t see any proof or basis for that decision,” he added.
The lawmaker and his co-accused Emmanuel Malicdem and Wilfredo Feleo were sentenced to six years and one month to eight years imprisonment for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The anti-graft division also ordered their perpetual disqualification from holding any public post.
They were also ordered to reimburse the LWUA the amount of P1.5 million, representing the amount of the unlawfully released sponsorship grant, plus interest of 6% per annum from the finality of the Decision until the amount is fully paid.
The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division also fined Pichay P5,000 for violating the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees.
During the trial, Pichay argued that the sponsorship fund was approved by the LWUA-BOT and also denied any participation in the approval of NCFP’s sponsorship request.