The Supreme Court of the Philippines (SC) has reportedly affirmed the dismissal and perpetual disqualification from public office of Surigao del Sur Representative Prospero Pichay Jr. due to a spurious business transaction he had approved over a decade ago.
The case against Mr. Pichay is related to a “questionable investment” in a local thrift bank that he had cleared while chairman of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) in 2009, during the term of former President Arroyo.
Per records, the LWUA illegally acquired 445,377 shares or 60 percent of the thrift bank Express Savings Bank Inc. (ESBI) owned by the Gatchalians in violation of the General Appropriations Act of 2009 which bars government funds from being invested in private institutions (such as ESBI).
The SC said the LWUA is required to seek clearance from the Monetary Board prior to purchasing more than 20 percent of the outstanding shares of a bank.
The SC in effect affirmed a 2011 Ombudsman ruling against Pichay for grave misconduct. The Ombudsman said the LWUA-ESBI deal resulted in the loss of some P780 million on the part of the government.
Pichay meanwhile said he respects the SC’s decision, but stressed it is not final and executory.
Reports said Pichay is still in the House of Representatives, and is in fact now running for re-election for his third and final term in the May 2022 local elections.