Prospero Pichay jailed at least 18 years over P780M graft case

·Senior Editor
·2 min read
Prospero "Butch" Pichay, Jr. (Source: Congressman Prospero “Butch” A Pichay, Jr./Facebook)

Prospero Pichay Jr. was sentenced to at least 18 years in jail for his role in a P780 million corruption case related to his chairmanship of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).

The Surigao del Sur representative was convicted of three counts of graft for the misuse of funds in 2009, in connection with the buyout of a thrift bank, reported Inquirer.

His deputy administrator at the LWUA Wilfredo Feleo Jr., was also found guilty of three counts of graft in the same case: the irregular acquisition of a 60-percent stake in Express Savings Bank Inc. (Esbi) for P80 million.

The duo were each sentenced to six years and a month to 10 years of imprisonment for each of the three counts, or a total of 18 to 30 years, and perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

They were also acquitted on a separate charge of violating the Manual of Regulation for Banks in relation to Republict Act No. 7653, or the New Central Bank Act. According to the court, the offenses only applied to bank officials.

According to the Sandiganbayan, the LWUA under Pichay deposited P300 million into its Esbi savings account. It then made an advance payment of P400 million to subscribe to the increase in the bank’s authorized capital stock “despite the absence of necessary approvals.”

“As it later turned out, the risks led to losses, as Esbi was eventually closed, and there was no showing that LWUA was able to recover the full amount it spent in relation to the acquisition of Esbi,” said the Sandiganbayan.

Two other LWUA executives - Enrique Montilla III, a member of the agency’s board of trustees, and acting administrator Daniel Landingin, both of whom have died – had the charge against them dismissed.

The other coaccused, the brothers Valenzuela City Rep. Weslie Gatchalian and Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, whose family’s Wellex Group Inc., along with Forum Pacific Inc., had owned Esbi, were earlier acquitted.

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