The Sandiganbayan on Monday ordered Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada’s assets seized pending resolution of the P183-million plunder case against him in connection with the pork barrel scam.
In a five-page ruling, the anti-graft court granted a petition by state lawyers for the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment/garnishment in order to “preserve and prevent any dissipation of prima facie ill-gotten wealth” allegedly acquired by Estrada.
Fifth Division Chairman Roland Jurado and Associate Justices Alexander Gesmundo and Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta signed the decision.
Several real property assets, seven motor vehicles, as well as shares of stocks are included in the list of pieces of property to be seized.
Among the real property assets are six condominium units (one each in Quezon City and Tagaytay City, four in San Juan City), two lots in Quezon City, two houses in Quezon City and five parcels of land (three agricultural land in Lipa City, Batangas, and two residential lots in Quezon City).
The vehicles ordered seized include a Range Rover Evoque wagon, Ford Mark III van, Nissan Homy, Foton Tornado 2T, Honda CRV, Chevrolet Suburban and a Jeep Wrangler.
The Jeep Wrangler is registered under the name of Estrada’s son Joseph Manuel Luis Ejercito.
Also included were 15,904,500 shares of stocks/investments in Millenium Cinema Inc., E-Quantum Intelligence CT Scan Lab Corp., Zirkoh Greenhills Inc., S-E-N-J-I Corp., H.K. Choi Inc., Quick Choi Inc., Kate N Precy Inc., Masang Pinoy Food Specialist, Bistro Bar Inc., Hathaway Holdings Inc., Bistro Bar Inc. and Hathaway Realty Holdings Inc.
The list was based on Estrada’s declarations in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), the bank inquiries made by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and the lifestyle check authorized by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Estrada’s lawyer Alexis Abastillas-Suarez said they will appeal the court’s ruling.
“The application is not sufficient in form and substance, based on mere allegations and on the basis of hearsay evidence that [are]yet to be proven in court. As we have said, we will resist this all the way,” she told The Manila Times.
Estrada earlier said he has not concealed, removed or disposed of his pieces of property.
“As a matter of fact, the alleged findings of the AMLC only show that his assets are intact and have not been concealed or removed,” Suarez said.
“It is undisputed that the funds in question were never placed in Sen. Estrada’s possession or custody. Under the circumstances, Sen. Estrada cannot be deemed an ‘accountable officer’ of the subject funds. Hence, he cannot be held liable for embezzlement or misappropriation of funds, which he was never in custody or possession of, and for which, he is not considered accountable by law,” she added.
Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan earlier said the move to seize Estrada’s assets “is necessary to protect the interests of the State and to prevent the removal, concealment and disposition” of alleged ill-gotten pieces of property and proceeds.
In February, the anti-graft court ordered the seizure of some P224.5-million worth of pieces of property and other assets of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who is also facing plunder and graft complaints in connection with the pork barrel scam.
Revilla and Estrada are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Quezon City.