Umali seeks dismissal of graft, malversation charges

Published June 28, 2019, 12:17 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki

Former Nueva Ecija 3rd District Rep. and Governor Aurelio M. Umali is asking the Sandiganbayan Second Division to dismiss his graft and malversation charges due to the inordinate delay of the prosecution.

Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)
Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)

Umali is facing four counts of violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and another three counts of violation of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, also known as Malversation of Public Funds due to the reportedly irregular implementation of agricultural development programs back in 2005.

In his motion to dismiss, Umali said that his right to speedy disposition of cases has been violated by the Ombudsman.

The complaint against him was filed before the Ombudsman on June 2, 2008 by Umali’s political rival, Vice Governor Edward Joson. He was ordered on September 5 to file a counter-affidavit, which he did so on November 21. Joson then made a reply-affidavit on January 5, 2009.

Because of the Ombudsman’s “passivity,” according to Umali, there was no resolution issued regarding their respective affidavits. Joson was even able to file an amended affidavit-complaint on March 10, 2015. Umali said this is almost seven years after the filing of his original complaint.

Umali then requested from the Ombudsman on May 5, 2015 all the pleadings, orders, and resolutions concerning his case. He received a reply on May 11 informing him that his case is “undergoing further inquiry.”

On August 7, the Ombudsman filed its own complaint against Umali. “Based on the foregoing, it is evident that accused Umali’s constitutionally guaranteed right to speedy disposition of his cases was grossly violated by inordinate delay in the conduct of the preliminary investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman,” the motion stated.

“The legal and factual issues to be resolved by the Office of the Ombudsman, in this case, are not complicated to warrant or justify a period of almost nine years before the preliminary investigation could be terminated,” it added.

He further stressed the transaction of the subject case transpired almost 14 years ago, and there is a great probability that the documentary evidence that could exonerate him has already been lost or destroyed.

Back in December 2005, Umali and his co-accused chose and endorsed Samahan ng mga Manininda ng Prutas sa Gabi Inc. (SMPGI) as “project partner” in the implementation of agricultural development programs, which were funded by his office and the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary’s office.

SMPGI was chosen even without the conduct of public bidding, and the accused disregarded the fact that it was unaccredited and unqualified to undertake the projects.

The first graft and malversation charge involved P450,000 being awarded to SMPGI, while the second and fourth graft and malversation charges were for P1,050,000 and P1,500,000, respectively.

The third graft charge, on the other hand, involved Umali using his priority development assistance fund (PDAF) for the implementation of livelihood projects. The accused officials chose and endorsed Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (MAMFI) as the “project partner” in the implementation of the said projects.