Sandiganbayan resets arraignment of Pichay, Gatchalian to Oct. 16

By , , on August 14, 2017

Seal of the Sandiganbayan (Photo by Sandiganbayan, Public Domain)
Seal of the Sandiganbayan (Photo by Sandiganbayan, Public Domain)

MANILA — The arraignment of Surigao del Sur Representative Prospero Pichay and Valenzuela City Rep. Weslie Gatchalian has been reset anew due to pending motions for reconsideration (MRs) from both camps.

The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division reset the arraignment of Pichay, Gatchalian and their co-accused to Oct. 16, 2017 in connection with the alleged anomalous acquisition of a thrift bank by the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) in 2009.

Their arraignment was first scheduled on March 9, 2017 but was deferred to May 30, 2017 and was again reset to Aug. 14, 2017.

Pichay, who was then the LWUA chairman, is facing charges of graft and violation of the manual of regulation for banks in connection with the transaction.

On the other hand, Gatchalian and some members of his family, are also facing graft charges.

The Sandiganbayan had earlier cleared Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, one of the accused in the case, of charges related to the LWUA’s acquisition of Express Savings Bank Inc. (ESBI) in October last year.

The prosecution has a pending motion for the Sandiganbayan to reconsider the dismissal of Sherwin’s case, while the defense has a pending appeal for the anti-graft court to drop the graft charges against the Gatchalian family.

The charges arose from the LWUA’s acquisition of ESBI, a local thrift bank based in Laguna province jointly owned by the Forum Pacific, Inc. and the Gatchalians’ Wellex Group Inc., in a transaction amounting to PHP80 million.

Ombudsman probe shows that the LWUA Board led by Pichay passed a resolution on March 24, 2009 approving the acquisition of ESBI without the requisite regulatory approvals from the Monetary Board (MB) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Department of Finance (DOF) and the Office of the President. (PNA)