MANILA, Philippines – A member of the Sarangani Provincial Board who is allied with Rep Manny Pacquiao was recently convicted by the Sandiganbayan (Philippine graft court) for estafa through falsification of public documents.
Provincial Board Member Eugene Alzate was sentenced to 10 to 11 years of prison and fined P5,000 for allegedly siphoning P300,000 from the pork barrel funds of former Rep. Erwin Chiongbian.
He was also ordered to indemnify the provincial government along with two other co-accused.
Alzate was also reported to have brought a government-issued vehicle of the province to Cebu City during his wedding in 2003, which also coincided with a study tour of department heads and provincial officials.
At that time, Alzate was a first-term member of the Sarangani Provincial Board.
Pacquiao’s vice-gubernatorial bet?
The Ombudsman also found Alzate guilty of the administrative charges against him and was ordered suspended. The suspension order, however, was rendered moot and academic since Alzate lost in the 2004 elections.
Alzate said he will file a motion for reconsideration over his Sandiganbayan conviction and hinted he will go to the Supreme Court if his petition is denied.
Alzate is positioning himself to become the running mate of Vice Gov Steve Solon who is being groomed to run for governor in the province next year.
Solon, whose uncle Roy Chiongbian lost to Pacquiao in the 2010 elections, is now an ally of Pacquiao.
It is Pacquiao, however, who is said to call the shots on who will run or who will be dropped from the line-up of the People’s Champ Movement (PCM), a local political party founded by the 8-division world boxing champion.
Solon will vie for the post that will be vacated by Gov Miguel Rene Dominguez who is on his last of three consecutive 3-year terms and is no longer eligible to run.
Dominguez was reportedly offered the vice-gubernatorial post but is non-committal on future political plans.
Alzate has found his way into the political inner circles of Pacquiao, who is seeking re-election in 2013.
Alzate is said to play the keyboards in private prayer meetings and jamming sessions with Pacquiao. Solon, on the other hand, sometimes plays the percussion while Pacquiao is known to sing during the service.
Pacquiao lawyer Francisco “Bong” Gacal said Alzate can still file an appeal with the Supreme Court if the Sandiganbayan will deny his motion for reconsideration.
Gacal added that Alzate is not barred from running for an elective post until the Supreme Court rules with finality to uphold his conviction.
Gacal however said it would be prudent for Alzate to face his legal woes first before vying for higher office.
Will Pacquiao agree with his lawyer and tell Alzate to set aside the latter’s vice gubernatorial ambitions?
For Pacquiao, image is everything now that he is just a few fights away from retirement and a heartbeat away from winning a Senate seat in 2016. – Rappler.com
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