Estrada still owes P307.6M–gov’t lawyersBy Cynthia D. Balana |Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Government prosecutors have disclosed that former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada has yet to hand over P307,602,835 of the P734.99 million in ill-gotten wealth that the Sandiganbayan Special Division ordered forfeited in favor of the state following his conviction for plunder in 2007.
Only P427.39 million of the amount has been turned over, according to a six-page comment filed by prosecutors Deputy Special Prosecutor John I.C. Turalba, Assistant Ombudsman Elvira C. Chua and Assistant Special Prosecutor III Kristine Jennifer E. Carreon.
The forfeiture of Estrada’s ill-gotten wealth was ordered by the court based on its decision finding the former president guilty of plunder beyond reasonable doubt on Sept. 12, 2007.
The court ordered the confiscation of P545,291,000 in “jueteng” payola, as well as P200 million in the account of the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation (EMYF), P189.7 million in deposits in the Jose Velarde bank account which came from Estrada’s commission in the purchases of Belle Corp. shares by the Government Service Insurance System and Social Security System, and a house and lot in New Manila, Quezon City, known as the “Boracay Mansion.”
The court was able to establish that Estrada was the beneficial owner of the Jose Velarde account then being maintained at Equitable-PCI Bank. EPCI Bank has since been acquired by Banco de Oro-Unibank.
Of the P427.39 million that has been garnished to date, P215.84 million came from the proceeds of the EMYF; P101.27 million and another P26,543.89 in cash from Investment Management Account No. 101-78056-1 in the name of Jose Velarde; and 450 million shares of stock of Waterfront with an assessed value of P110.25 million (at P0.245 per share as of April 13, 2009).
To settle the balance, prosecutors have proposed the confiscation of the remaining assets in the Velarde account in Banco de Oro consisting of some 300 million in Wellex shares used as partial collateral by businessman William Gatchalian for a P500-million loan from Velarde.
“Considering therefore that the assets already in the possession of the honorable court is still insufficient in the amount of P307,602,835.60, it is requested that the balance be taken from the loan payments reportedly made by William Gatchalian as well as the delivery to this honorable court of the 300 million shares of Wellex,” the prosecution said in their comment.