Seizure of Ampatuan assets pushed

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Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the filing of a petition for forfeiture against the heirs of the late Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., including his widow Bai Laila Uy Ampatuan, in connection with his alleged P54.96-million unexplained wealth.

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Ampatuan allegedly amassed an unexplained wealth of P6.06 million in 2002, P2.16 million in 2003, P2.01 million in 2005, P612,829.22 in 2006, and P44.12 million in 2007.

Investigators who conducted a lifestyle check found that his wealth was “manifestly out of proportion” to his salary as former governor “and to their other lawful income and income from legitimately acquired properties.”

The former governor did not declare some real properties in Cotabato and Davao cities, several vehicles as well as firearms in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

“[U]nder 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.

The Ombudsman dismissed all criminal charges against Ampatuan Sr. who died in July 2015.

The Ampatuans stressed that the properties allegedly owned by the late governor “were either registered in the name of another person or lacked evidence to support the claimed ownership thereof.”

They also said that Ampatuan’s father was affluent from whom “he inherited several properties.”

The Ombudsman 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.”

She added that “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.”

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