Ombudsman goes after Ampatuan Sr.’s P55M unexplained wealth
The Office of the Ombudsman is set to file a civil forfeiture case against the late Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his wife over their alleged unexplained wealth amounting to P54.97 million.
In a statement on Thursday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said she has ordered the filing of the forfeiture proceedings against the alleged mastermind in the grisly Nov. 23, 2009 Maguindanao massacre for properties acquired in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007 amounting to P54,965,526.88 which were out of proportion to his lawful income.
The Ombudsman’s resolution is subject to motion for reconsideration.
After a lifestyle check, Ombudsman investigators found out that Ampatuan’s wealth “is manifestly out of proportion to respondent’s salary as former Governor of Maguindanao and to their other lawful income and income from legitimately acquired properties.”
Ampatuan allegedly failed to declare 15 real estate properties in Cotabato and Davao cities worth P55,134,283.10, 25 vehicles worth P27,567,000, and 23 firearms valued at P3,838,000.
“Under Section 2 of Republic Act 1379, whenever any public officer or employee has acquired during his incumbency an amount of property which is manifestly out of proportion to his salary as such public officer and to his other lawful income and the income from legitimately acquired property, said property shall be presumed prima facie to have been unlawfully acquired,” Morales said in a resolution approved December 2016.
Ampatuan challenged the Ombudsman to prove that he owned the alleged undeclared properties, adding that these properties were registered in other persons’ names.
Ampatuan also said he inherited several properties from his rich father, and that the firearms were given to him by friends, relatives and political allies.
Ombudsman Morales junked his defense and said “there is clear and convincing evidence that Ampatuan accumulated wealth manifestly disproportionate to his lawful and legitimate income for 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007, and he and his family failed to lead modest lives appropriate to their positions and income due to their extravagant and ostentatious display of wealth.”
Morales also said Ampatuan’s death only extinguished his criminal liability for perjury and falsification punishable under the Revised Penal Code , violations of the Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and violation of Section 7 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, all for his failure to declare his wealth in his statement of assets and liabilities networth.
But his death does not extinguish his civil liability, the Ombudsman said.
“Ampatuan’s death does not operate to extinguish his liabilities under R.A. No. 1379 and the government is not precluded from recovering his unexplained wealth. Notably, a petition for forfeiture may still be filed against his estate,” Morales said.
Republic Act 1379 is entitled “An Act Declaring Forfeiture in favor of the State any Property found to have been unlawfully acquired by any public official or employee and providing for the proceedings therefor.”
Ampatuan Sr. died in a stroke last July 2015 while in detention for murder. His sons Zaldy and Andal Jr. are under detention pending trial, but Sajid Ampatuan was allowed to post bail.
READ: Ampatuan out on bail
The Ampatuans and their followers are detained for their involvement in the massacre where 58 persons, 32 of whom were journalists, were found brutally killed and buried in a shallow grave at a hilltop in Ampatuan town on Nov. 23, 2009.
The massacre was known as the worst election-related violence in the country and the single deadliest attack on journalists. IDL
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