Oriental Mindoro's current and former governors guilty of graft

MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division on Monday, April 20, found former Oriental Mindoro Governor Rodolfo Valencia and incumbent Governor Alfonso Umali guilty of graft in connection with an illegal loan worth P2.5 million. 

They were sentenced to imprisonment of 6 years and one month to 10 years, and perpetual disqualification from public office. 

In a 37-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Jose Hernandez, the anti-graft court found Valencia and Umali "guilty beyond reasonable doubt" of violating Section 3(e) and 3(g) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Former board member Romualdo Bawasanta was found guilty of the same offense. 

The case involves a P2.5-million loan contract awarded to engineer Alfredo Atienza in 1994 for the repair, operations, and maintenance of a transport vessel when Valencia and Umali were governor and provincial administrator, respectively. 

In 2008, the Sandiganbayan found that the loan was "grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government" and sentenced the two to imprisonment of up to 10 years for misusing public funds. 

They were convicted after the court denied their demurrers to evidence for lack of merit. 

The Sandiganbayan, however, agreed to re-open the trial on the ground that Valencia and Umali may not have understood the consequence of waiving their right to present evidence. 

In its latest decision, the Sandiganbayan ordered Valencia and Umali to return P2.5 million to the province of Oriental Mindoro.

Umali is the treasurer of President Benigno Aquino III's Liberal Party. – Rappler.com