Suspended Umali takes oath as ULAP chief

Suspended Oriental Mindoro governor Alfonso V. Umali has been sworn in as the president of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), the Philippine Information Agency reported.

Umali, who is serving a 90-day suspension over graft charges, took his oath on July 4 as chief of the powerful group of local government executives.

A staunch ally of President Benigno Aquino, Umali is holding a Cabinet position by being a member of the Legislative-Executive Advisory Council. He is also the head of League of Provinces of the Philippines.

Umali began serving his 90-day suspension after he sent a letter on April 29 to Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, stating that he is “voluntarily submitting” himself to suspension as order by the Sandiganbayan last January 17. His suspension ends August 3.

Umali, along with former governor and now first district Representative Rodolfo G. Valencia,  is facing a graft case at the Sandiganbayan in connection with a P2.5 million loan extended by the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro to ship owner Alfredo Atienza in 1994. He was then the provincial administrator of Oriental Mindoro.

Umali and Valencia have denied any wrongdoing, saying the provincial government 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.

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