Prosecution opposes Pichay's demurrer in chess case

By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Office of the Special Prosecutor has filed its opposition to the demurrer to evidence filed by former Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) chief Prospero Pichay for his breach of conduct charge in relation to the reportedly illegal P1.5 million sponsorship for the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) back in 2010.

MB FILE—Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr. answers questions from the media during a press conference on the National Summit on Watershed Management in Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan during his time as chairman of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA). (KJ Rosales) | MB FILE—Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr. (KJ Rosales / MANILA BULLETIN)

In his demurrer, Pichay argued that the sponsorship of the LWUA of the chess event does not refer to the prohibition of Section 7(a) of R.A. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Government Officials and Employees.
The said law provides that public officials and employees are prohibited from having any financial or material interest in any transaction requiring the approval of their office. But in this case, Pichay said "the essential element of pecuniary or proprietary interest is totally lacking and was never proven."

However, the prosecution would beg to differ. "He had everything to gain therein that's why he had every incentive to make sure that the NCFP request for post-event sponsorship be granted and that there was sufficient budget from the LWUA to cover the amount," the opposition read.

The prosecution further pointed out that the event was not even named after the LWUA, but rather Pichay. At the same time, not a single employee of LWUA joined the chess tournament.

"Considering the fact that the prosecution has presented evidence to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, it becomes necessary to consider the evidence to be presented by the accused," the opposition read. "Hence, it is respectfully prayed that the instant demurrer to evidence be denied for lack of merit."

Pichay was accused of violating Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 and Section 7(a) of R.A. 6713 back in October 18, 2016 for giving unwarranted benefits and advantage to the NCFP in the amount of P1.5 million back in 2010.

He was granted leave to file demurrer in his breach of conduct charge, but the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has found enough evidence to convict Pichay of graft.

By filing a demurrer to evidence, Pichay is contesting that the evidence offered in the case is insufficient. If the court grants the demurrer, then the case would be dropped.