Former Nueva Ecija governor Aurelio “Oyie” Umali could face a prison term of 20 to 40 years if found guilty by the Sandiganbayan for his involvement in a P15-million pork barrel fund scam when he was still a congressman representing the province’s third district.
Then-Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, before her recent retirement, approved the recommendation of Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer III Russel Labor-Lay-At to file charges against Umali for malversation of public funds under Republic Act 3019 with the anti-graft court.
Morales also junked the motion for reconsideration filed by Umali for lack of merit.
In a reply sent to Nueva Ecija Board Member Edward Thomas Joson, the original complainant, the Ombudsman’s Office of the Special Prosecutor confirmed the filing of the criminal and administrative charges against Umali and several others.
“Records of this office show that the information relative to the said case was approved by the Honorable Ombudsman on 13 July 2018, and was forwarded to the Office of the Special Prosecutor for filing with the Sandiganbayan,” Assistant Special Prosecutor Gian Carla Hernal said in a letter dated July 24 to Joson.
The governor also faces perpetual disqualification from service, fine and imprisonment with a conviction.
Umali, detained businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, and several others were accused of alleged misuse of P15 million in Priority Development Assistance Funds to buy irrigation pumps and fertilizers for his constituents in Laur, Gabaldon, Bongabon, Santa Rosa, Genera, Mamerto Natividad and Cabanatuan City.
He downloaded P12 million of the PDAF to the Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. and P3 million to the Samahan ng mga Manininda ng Prutas sa Gabi Inc.
According to the Ombudsman, the respondents “made it appear that the funds were used to purchase 7,920 bottles of liquid fertilizers and 15 irrigation pumps.”
Umali’s P12-million PDAF was used to buy bottled fertilizer for P1,500 apiece “despite the fact that market price of the fertilizer costs only P150,” which was then sold at P50 to farmers.
He is facing another graft case before the Sandiganbayan for involvement in the illegal repacking of relief goods from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
His brother, former Cabanatuan City vice mayor Emmanuel Umali, was recently dismissed from public service.