SC lifts CA’s freeze on Ligot assets

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The Supreme Court has lifted a freeze order issued by the Court of Appeals on the assets of former military comptroller retired Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot and his family, saying the indefinite timeframe of the order violated the family’s right to due process.

In a 24-page ruling dated March 6 and penned by Associate Justice Arturo Brion, the high court ordered the appellate court to transmit its records to branch 22 of the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) which is now hearing a civil forfeiture case against Ligot.

“We clarify that our conclusion applies only to the CA ruling and does not affect the proceedings or whatever resolution the RTC may have issued in the presently pending civil cases of forfeiture,” it said.

The high court found merit in the petition filed by Ligot, his wife Erlinda and children Paulo, Riza and Miguel who alleged the appeals court acted with grave abuse of discretion when it extended on Jan. 12, 2007 its freeze order on the their properties issued initially on Jan.4, 2006 for an indefinite period.

Ligot, who is accused of amassing at least P135.28-million in ill-gotten wealth, had asked the appeals court to reconsider its decision extending a freeze order on their properties issued on Sept. 20, 2005 “until after all the appropriate proceedings and/or investigation have been terminated,” saying it deprived them of their property without due process and was tantamount to punishing them before their guilt was proven.

Their appeals denied, the Ligots elevated the case to the Supreme Court in 2007, pointing out that the freeze order “ceased to be effective in view of the six-month extension limit on freeze orders provided under the Rule in Civil Forfeiture Cases” which took effect on Nov. 15, 2005.

In its decision, the high court found merit in the claim of the Ligots that the effectiveness of the freeze order on their properties ceased after Jan. 25, 2006 in accordance with the six-month rule.

The high court said the appellate court’s extension of the freeze order “borders on inflicting a punishment to the Ligots, in violation of their constitutionally protected right to be presumed innocent, because the unreasonable denial of their property comes before final conviction.”

The high court also noted that the freeze order had been in effect since 2005 while the government only filed a civil forfeiture case in 2011 and another forfeiture case in 2012.

The high court said the government did not even give an explanation why it took six years from the time the freeze order was granted before it was able to file a civil forfeiture case in court.

The extended freeze order indeed violated the Ligots’ right to due process, the high court ruled, and ordered the reversal of the appellate court decision.

The high court reminded the Court of Appeals that “the government’s anticorruption drive cannot be done at the expense of cherished fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution.”

“The end does not justify the means,” it said.

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  • imongredneck

    Justice delayed can make one a millionaire and crime does pay. Onli in da Pilipins.

  • Marcos5

    Ang Galing Ano ? Sinong Niloloko nyo ? General Ligot na may Condo Unit sa NYC Trump Tower. Samantalang ang buong AFP at Pilipinas walang Eroplano at Barkong Pandigma at Kinakawawa ng Tsina. Anong Klaseng Supreme Court ito ? mukang pinagloloko nyo nananaman ang buong Bayan nagkakalohohan nalang ba tayo ?

    • Akoaykanoy

      So ligot can withdraw all his money and transferred it to US nice decision mr brion

    • indiosbravos2002

      Technicalities na naman. Mga alagad talaga ni Coronakot at Arryo naglipana pa rin sa SC.

  • speedstream2

    Read, but try not to gnash your teeth too hard. It could ruin your day.

  • tra6Gpeche

    This is how democracy works. But this is the Philippines where the Supreme Court still does not have integrity, credibilty and consistency. Is there any money or padrino involved? Your guess is as good as mine!

  • Markov Chain

    You know that the election is coming….

  • http://freemindonline.blogspot.com/ FreemindOnline

    It’s a matter of finding the right loophole and government doing an intentional mistake. The longer the case takes the better for the accused. All is needed to be done is nothing at all and time will set the Ligot’s free. . .

    This is an example of taking advantage of the Filipinos and the Philippine government short attention span.

    • http://www.dafk.net/what/ Kilabot ng mga Balahibo

      “The longer the case takes the better for the accused. All is needed to
      be done is nothing at all and time will set the Ligot’s free. . .”

      Ummm, i beg to disagree.

      Try to pay for lawyers defending you without any money to do so, and you will get quality equal to what you pay for.

  • regd

    Sad as it may seem, we cannot punish anybody until their guilt is proven.

  • $19543087

    So what will happen now? Will the Ligot family be able to withdraw all the money that were frozen which is the subject of forfeiture? How can you allow unfreezing those ill-gotten wealth when the case has not been decided yet? Mr. Brion are you this stupid? That money better be there when the case is finally decided in favor of the government! And for you Mr. Brion we will skin you alive if Ligot withdraws all that money!

  • wakats

    Lagot ang civil forfeiture case – uubusin ni ligot ang bank deposits, etc. The trial courts now hearing the forfeiture cases should issue anew a freeze order….

    • indiosbravos2002

      And fast. Last working day na tonorrow. By end of day 0 balance na yan. Sigurado ko naitawag na ni Ligot sa bangko yan today. Wdraw first thing tomorrow. At lipat sa dollar account na covered ng bank secrecy law. Wahahaha. Bravo Corona and Enrile for making this law public for all corrupt officials to use and abuse

  • Hendot2012

    Pera pera na lang tlga mga Justices natin. Sana madala nyo sa hukay ang mga perang yan pag namatay kayo mga Bugok na Justices, palibhasa majority sa knila appoint ni Arroyo

  • tadasolo

    another ruling by a stupid court which lacks credibility and does not used common sense. This court throughout its history has bern supporting dictators and violators of the law through technicalities instead of their criminal act.

  • rudy_boy

    Siguro Kumpare din ni Brion si Ligot ….

    Both GMA remnants…the order now allows the properties to be sold/transferred.(?)..

    BRAVO, Brion…..

  • http://www.dafk.net/what/ Kilabot ng mga Balahibo

    On the flipside naman, how can you expect the Ligot’s to pay for their defense kung ifreeze mo ang lahat ng assets.

    6 months freeze of assets would be good, since it would prevent the respondents from draining the account. and so it was granted.

    an extension based on the Sept 20 2005 rule was signed into law, but since the proceedings started before 2005, it was rather flawed. CA granted this extension, pero should it mean ‘forever?’

    The SC created a balance. You freeze it, you exert the effort and the diligence to prove it.

    Technically, what they did is to mete out the punishment, even before the guilty verdict was out. This means that they can ‘extend’ the freeze order long after the Ligot has the ability to defend themselves in court.

    • marionics

      PAO? he he

      • http://www.dafk.net/what/ Kilabot ng mga Balahibo

        hehehe, pero, you get what you pay for.

  • Gu3st

    smells bad… CA justices are known corrupt… huge money involved here…how can the government recover the money now if ever the Ligot’s lose in the Supreme Court?

  • marionics

    mukhang kelangan na naman ng 2nd round of impeachments a

  • farmerpo

    Ayos mga igan. Tuwang tuwa ang mga St Loots gang. Maraming perang malilibre para pambili ng judges, justices,immigration officials at best of all, best security pulis at sundalo. Daling lokohin ng Pinoy, gamitin lang ng legalese, di na maintindihan maski yung maliit na ulo sa baba ang ginamit ng proponents sa pagisip ng palusot. Unfreeze na rin kay Marcos, at si Marcos mismo. Nangangawit na ung tao, kawawa naman. Di ba SC?

  • julieboy

    Yah right!!!!!What money can do all the way to the supreme court.Watch the money disappear after the freeze is lifted..What a bunch of crooks,they are all the same.

  • indiosbravos2002

    Grabe. Hoodlum in robes. Magkano kaya bigay kay Brion? Just asking.

  • indiosbravos2002

    Eto na naman. Technicalities. Kung ang SC just base their rulings on technicalities and not the spirit of the law, di pawalan na lang lahat ng mapeperang opisyales at general ng military at kapulisan na may corruption cases. Kaysa gumastos pa ang gobyerno. Tutal kasangga naman nila SC justices na appointed ni Arroyo. Di ba (in)Justice Brion?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charles-Lynel-F-Joven/685946584 Charles Lynel F. Joven

    oh great, now they’re letting another crook off the hook..!!!

  • wishfull thinking

    Ok lang sa Supreme Court ang mga magnanakaw kahit na obvious na eh “technicality” pa rin ang sinusunod. Panu kasi…pare-parehas silang…..wag na nga baka ma-libel pa ko!

  • $53950194

    Guys I am not a lawyer but I perfectly understand the order. This is not about Padrino system inside the SC. This is simply about the unjust extension of the freeze order against the Ligots. We should focus our attention to the Prosecution handling the case. It has been 6 years and still nothing is happening. If it is not about their incompetence matagal na sana itong sarado at nahusgahan na!

  • pedro Bato

    Walang kwentang decision ito ng SC !! Another victory of the corrupt. . . saan tayo pupunta mga kapwa ko Pilipino. . . these honorable men daw are protecting the whole family of the corrupt. . clearly, this decision has a negative effect and is a setback on the tuwid na daan of the president. What will prevent now the corrupt family from withdrawing all the stolen money from the banks even before the termination of these corruption cases in the courts? Kawawang mga Pilipino, . .

  • bacongon

    ???? WHY WHY WHY ???? JUSTICE DENIED TO THE FILIPINOS !!!! Are our JUSTICES afraid ??? We the People of the Philippines pay your SALARIES; FRINGE BENEFITS AND YOUR RETIREMENT !!!!

  • AllaMo

    Lifestyle and SALN check on asst. justice brion please.

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