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Sandigan affirms indictment of ex-Nueva Ecija Rep. Umali over 'anomalous' agri programs

The Sandiganbayan has affirmed the indictment of former Nueva Ecija Representative Aurelio Umali in connection with his graft and malversation case over the allegedly anomalous agriculture development programs in 2005.

The court's Second Division denied Umali's urgent motion to hold in abeyance the determination of probable cause for violating Section 7(a) of Administrative Order No. 7, or the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman.

Section 7 states that only one motion for reconsideration (MR) may be filed within five days upon notice of an order or resolution from the Ombudsman, while a corresponding leave of court is required in case the case is filed at a proper court.

However, the Sandiganbayan said Umali already filed two MRs at the Ombudsman. The first appeal was filed on February 6, 2017 assailing the finding of probable cause, which the Ombudsman denied on September 29, 2017.

The Sandiganbayan said Umali again submitted an MR with the Ombudsman on May 2, 2019 without a leave of court, considering his case was already filed in court on April 26. It said such motion is disallowed under Section 7 of the Ombudsman rules.

The anti-graft court said a second MR is also prohibited under the Revised Guidelines in the Continuous Trial of Cases released by the Supreme Court.

“Accused Umali did not seek leave of court when he filed another motion for reconsideration with the Office of the Ombudsman. This constitutes another violation of Section 7(a) of Administrative Order No. 7... it is likewise considered a prohibited motion,” the May 27 resolution read.

The Ombudsman filed four counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and three counts of malversation of public funds against Umali. His co-accused in one graft case includes convicted plunderer Janet Lim Napoles.

The three graft and malversation charges involves the alleged endorsement of Samahan ng mga Manininda ng Prutas sa Gabi, Inc. as project partner for P3 million worth of local agricultural development programs in the third district without public bidding and with the organization being "unaccredited and unqualified to undertake the projects."

The case with Napoles, meanwhile, stemmed from Umali’s choosing of her foundation, Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka, Inc., for local livelihood projects worth P12 million without public bidding and with the NGO similarly being "unaccredited and unqualified to undertake the projects.” —KBK, GMA News