Sandiganbayan refuses to dismiss civil forfeiture case of Ex-AFP Comptroller

Published July 17, 2019, 8:04 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki

The Sandiganbayan Second Division refused to dismiss the civil forfeiture case filed against former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Comptroller Lt. General Jacinto C. Ligot and his family.

Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The Office of the Special Prosecutor filed on May 27, 2013, a petition seeking to forfeit the unlawfully acquired properties of Ligot, his wife Erlinda Ligot, his children Paulo Ligot and Riza Ligot, brother-in-law Edgardo Yambao, and his wife’s cousin Gilda Alfonso-Velasquez aggregately valued at P55,596,694.26.

The amount is based on the bank deposits and investment accounts in the name of the respondents allegedly acquired during Ligot’s tenure as a commissioned officer of the AFP.

Ligot and the others accused filed a joint demurrer and sought the dismissal of the civil forfeiture case, arguing that the Office of the Special Prosecutor has shown no right to a judgment on its favor, based on the facts of the law.

They said the prosecution violated the laws on secrecy of bank deposits, especially since the disclosure of their foreign currency deposits are prohibited without their written consent.

They further argued that only Ligot, out of the seven respondents, is a public officer. The deposits sought to be forfeited under his name only amount to P312,024.89. Based on his salary prior to retirement, the amount is not out of proportion.

His salary prior to retirement was P3,248,003, while his bank deposits and investments amounted to P550,000 and P700,000, respectively. At the same time, there is no evidence that the deposits made by his family to their bank accounts came from Ligot.

However, the anti-graft court denied their demurrer for lack of merit. “Accordingly, after a careful perusal of the records of this case, as well as the evidence presented, the Court is convinced that the petitioner presented prima facie sufficient evidence for forfeiture, unless evidence to the contrary proves otherwise,” the resolution stated.

“Since most of the respondents’ assertions are already matters of defense which are best addressed in a full-blown trial, the presentation of respondents’ evidence is in order,” it added.

The nine-page resolution was written by Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi with the concurrence of Chairperson Oscar Herrera Jr. and Associate Justice Lorifel Pahimna.

 
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