By Czarina Nicole Ong
Former Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) chief Prospero Pichay Jr. today pleaded not guilty before the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division to his three graft charges and bank violation charge in relation to the questionable purchase of Express Savings Bank Inc. (ESBI) way back in March 24, 2009.
His pretrial schedule for his cases involving violations of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and X126.2(c)(1)(2) of The Manual of Regulation for Banks in relation to Section 36 and 37 of RA. 7653 has been set on July 23.
During an interview with reporters after his arraignment, Pichay said he is confident with how the trial will go since there was no wrongdoing in the purchase of the thrift bank from the Gatchalian family.
“Sabi ng Justices, after the pretrial kung karamihan ng documents (The Justices said, after the pretrial if all the documents are present)… they can come up with promulgation within three months. On our part, since we are very confident, [all] we have to do is present the documents to prove that the purchase is legal,” he said.
His co-accused, the Gatchalian family, were already cleared earlier of their charges. The first Gatchalian to be cleared from the case was Senator Sherwin. His parents William and Dee Hua, as well as brothers Weslie and Kenneth, later followed suit as the graft charges against them were dropped.
Meanwhile, Pichay’s fellow LWUA official, deputy acting administrator, Wilfredo Feleo, also pleaded not guilty to his three graft and bank violation charges.