Sandiganbayan orders freeze of Jinggoy Estrada’s alleged ‘pork’ loot
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division has approved the prosecution’s request to freeze P184-million in assets of detained Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada which is believed to be part of his alleged loot from the pork barrel scam.
The antigraft court approved the prosecution’s ex-parte motion for issuance of writ of preliminary attachment or garnishment on Estrada’s properties like cash, real properties, shares of stocks, and other financial instruments.
“Wherefore, premises considered, the prosecution’s ex parte motion for issuance of writ of preliminary attachment/garnishment is granted. Let a writ of preliminary attachment (be issued) against Estrada requiring the Sheriff of this Court to attach so much of his property in the Philippines of said accused … in an amount not exceeding P183.793 million,” the court’s resolution said.
Among the properties to be garnished are Estrada’s seven vehicles (Range Rover Evoque, Ford Mark III Van, Nissan Homy, Foton Tornado, Honda CRV, Chevrolet Suburban and Jeep Wrangler), six condominium units in San Juan and Quezon city, five parcels of agricultural and residential lands, two residential lots in Estrada’s residence in Corinthian Hills and Loyola Grand Villas, and two houses in Corinthian Hills and in Quezon city.
Also for garnishment are Estrada and his family relatives’ shares of stocks in Millennium Cinema, E-Quantum Intelligence C T Scan Lab Corp., Zirkoh Greenhills, S-E-N-J-I Corp., H.K. Choi, Quick Choi, Kate N Precy, Masang Pinoy Food Specialist, Bistro Bar, and Hathaway Realty Holdings.
Garnishment has the effect of a temporary freeze order on properties to ensure that the government can take these back should the court rule that these are part of ill-gotten wealth.
In its resolution, the court said there is a need to secure Estrada’s properties because these only amount to P111.48 million or less than the forfeitable amount of his alleged loot.
“(T)here is no other sufficient security for the claim sought to be enforced by the action,” the court said.
The court also agreed with the prosecution that there is a “sufficient ground of attachment” based on the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) report that the senator closed down four of his bank accounts containing P76.4 million at the time the PDAF scam erupted in the media.
The same report also said Estrada used alleged conduits to get kickbacks from Napoles.
In the motion, prosecutors said there is a need to preserve Estrada’s alleged kickbacks in the course of the court hearings to protect the interests of the state in forfeiture cases and to prevent the concealment of ill-gotten wealth.
“Given the very high likelihood that Estrada indeed had a hand in the plunder of millions of pesos in public funds , there is an imperative need to secure as much of his property as possible in order to cover his liability for his alleged loot,” the motion read.
The prosecutors said securing Estrada’s alleged loot was all the more necessary because of Estrada’s attempt to close some of his bank accounts because of the scam.
“Estrada demonstrated proclivity to hide his financial dealings from scrutiny in order to, presumably, forestall the discovery of his illicit activities … When Estrada closed his accounts as described he was clearly trying to conceal and protect his monies that he accumulated from his plunderous activities,” the motion said.
The prosecutors noted that Estrada came from a prominent political family and thus had the clout to hide his alleged ill-gotten wealth.
“The state must be allowed a reasonable remedy to prevent Estrada from further concealing, disposing and dissipating his assets and funds to evade any future judgment of conviction and forfeiture,” it added.
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