Umali asks Sandigan to defer suspension

Governor Alfonso V. Umali has asked the Sandiganbayan to defer the implementation of his suspension until February 20 to finish all his pending works.

This as he told the special anti-graft court’s Fourth Division that he is “willing, able and ready” to comply with its resolution suspending him for 90 days over his alleged illegal release of a P2.5-million loan to a ship owner.

Umali told the court that he needed to receive local and foreign investors and finish various infrastructure projects, including those for the upcoming Mimaropa sports meet that will be held in Calapan City in February.

At the same time, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Oriental Mindoro has passed a resolution requesting the Sandiganbayan and the Department of Interior and Local Government to allow the 30-day postponement of Umali’s preventive suspension

Umali, together with Representative Rodolfo Valencia, was found guilty of misusing public funds in 1994 when they forged a P2.5 million loan contract with ship owner Alfredo Atienza that the court found to be “grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government.” Valencia was Oriental Mindoro’s governor then while Umali was the provincial administrator.

The two, along with Atienza, then vice governor Pedrito Reyes and provincial board members Jose Enriquez and Jose Leynes, were sentenced in September 2008 to imprisonment of up to 10 years. All the provincial officials were barred from holding public office.

The officials argued that the provincial assistance was made to help Atienza repair and maintain the roll-on roll-off vessel MV Ace, which was to ply the Calapan-Batangas route.

They said that the vessel was used by the province in the aftermath of four strong typhoons that hit Oriental Mindoro in 1993.

The Sandiganbayan in 2009 agreed to retry the case and last January 7 it issued a resolution ordering Umali’s 90-day preventive suspension.

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