VP seeks dismissal of forfeiture case

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Vice President Jejomar Binay has sought the dismissal of a forfeiture case filed against him and other individuals by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

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Caro Certeza, lawyer for Binay, however, refused to disclose what had transpired at the first hearing on Monday, saying Judge Reynaldo Alhambra of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 53 has directed both parties not to give interviews or statements to the media, citing sensitivity of the case.

“The court said the case is confidential so we are prohibited to discuss the case with the media,” Certeza told The Manila Times after he emerged from the courtroom.

“I filed an omnibus motion against the petition for forfeiture. That’s the only thing I can say. I’m really sorry,” he said.

The forfeiture case was filed last November, claiming that the Vice President and people who are identified with him have several questionable bank accounts, including a single account under the name of Binay allegedly amounting to millions.

Certeza said the motion to dismiss was based on Republic Act (RA) 1379, which says public officials, including the sitting Vice President, are immune from cases like the one filed by AMLC.

RA 1379 is an act declaring the forfeiture in favor of the government of any property acquired by a public official or employee during his or her incumbency whose amount is manifestly out of proportion to his or her salary.

Section 2 of the law states that a forfeiture case may be filed against a public official or employee “provided, that no such petition shall be filed within one year before any general election or within three months before any special election.”

The AMLC filed last November 12 a forfeiture case against Binay and 62 other individuals and corporations, a day after the lapse of the six-month freeze order on the Vice President’s assets filed on May 11.

Certeza said the court did not schedule the next hearing.

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