[In the news] Court of Appeals issues freeze order vs Ampatuan assets – Nation – GMA News Online – Latest Philippine News

Court of Appeals issues freeze order vs Ampatuan assets – Nation – GMA News Online – Latest Philippine News.

SOPHIA DEDACE, GMA News

The Court of Appeals on Tuesday ordered government agencies and banking institutions to freeze the accounts and properties of the Ampatuan clan, whose members are charged with masterminding the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre in Maguindanao.

In a 23-page decision, the appellate court’s Special Second Division said the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) was able to establish that the Ampatuans may have used the accounts and properties in committing fraud, such as amassing up to P1 billion in ill-gotten wealth.

“We agree with petitioner that probable cause exists that the subject bank accounts and other described properties of the respondents in the petition are related to unlawful activities; and that unless frozen, the funds in the subject accounts will certainly be withdrawn and the other identified properties disposed of, thereby placing them beyond the reach of the law,” the CA said in granting the AMLC’s plea.

Associate Justice Celia Librea-Leagogo wrote the decision, which was concurred in by Associate Justices Bienvenido Reyes and Elihu Ybañez.

The accounts and properties in question belong to 28 members of the Ampatuan family members, led by patriarch Andal Ampatuan Sr. and suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Rizaldy “Zaldy” Ampatuan.”

As of this posting, GMA News Online was still trying to reach the Ampatuan lawyers, Philip Sigfrid Fortun and Redemberto Villanueva.

Andal Sr. and his relatives stand accused in the multiple murder trial over the Maguindanao massacre, where 57 people were killed, including 32 journalists. The carnage is said to be the worst politically-motivated violence in the Philippines.

Accounts, properties covered

The freeze order, effective for 20 days, covers the Ampatuans’ accounts and properties in the following agencies and banking institutions:

Allied Banking Corporation, Banco de Oro, Unibank Inc., Bank of the Philippine Islands, BPI Family Savings Bank, Coop Bank of Cotabato, Development Bank of the Philippines, East West Banking Corporation, Equicom Savings Bank Inc., Equitable Card Network Inc., Equitable PCI Bank, Land Bank of the Philippines, Metrobank Car Corporation, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, One Network RB Inc., Philam Equitable Life Assurance Company.

Philippine AXA Life Insurance Corporation, Philippine National Bank, Philippine Savings Bank, Planters Development Bank, PruLife Insurance Corporation of UK, RCBC Savings Bank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, Security Bank Corporation, Standard Chartered Bank, Sterling Bank of Asia Inc., Toyota Financial Services Philippine Corporation, Union Bank of the Philippines, United Coconut Planters Bank, Philippine National Police Firearms and Explosives Office, Land Transportation Office, Register of Deeds of Davao City, Register of Deeds of Maguindanao and/or Cotabato City and Province of Maguindanao.

The order also covers properties including the Deal Gems and Jewelries Pawnshop and Maguindanao Electric Coop (Magelco), believed to be owned by the Ampatuans.

The appellate court directed these entities to inform the court and the AMLC of the following: account numbers and names of account owners, amount of monetary instrument, and property or related web accounts as of the time they are frozen.

AMLC petition

The AMLC had asked the Court of Appeals to issue the freeze order after finding alleged irregularities in the Ampatuans’ financial statements.

Citing the Commission on Audit’s (COA) Special Audit Report No. 2010-01, the council said that the Office of the Regional Governor of ARMM (Zaldy Ampatuan‘s office) received P19.9 billion and cash allocations of P17.169 billion from national government coffers.

Of the amount, P14.61 billion was supposedly transferred by Zaldy’s office to 25 ARMM line agencies and departments.

The COA report said that the money allotted for Zaldy’s office before his suspension in 2009 was “not properly utilized and managed.”

‘Wealth does not match income’

The AMLC said the lifestyle check on the Ampatuans led by Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Humphrey Monteroso indicating that the clans’ wealth does not match the legitimate income reported by family members.

The council noted that some P90 million was not declared in Andal Sr.’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN). It said that the clan patriarch has 27 houses in Cotabato City, Davao City, and Shariff Aguak, the capital of Maguindano province. However, he only declared P21.5 million worth of real properties when the amount should have been about P68 million, the AMLC said.

The council added that the patriarch owns at least 91 vehicles valued at P111 million, but only P45 million worth of vehicles was declared.

“It was concluded by the panel that even if the alleged undisclosed assets and properties were declared by Datu Andal Sr., in his SALNs, their aggregate value cannot be justified by the net or disposable income as derived from the annual income tax returns, leading to the conclusion that he amassed unexplained wealth manifestly and excessively out of proportion to his legitimate income from 2000 to 2009 in the aggregate amount of P188.42 million,” AMLC said in its petition. — VS, GMA News

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