MANILA, Philippines – The late Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr and his wife Bai Lala Uy had illegally amassed P54.9-million worth of properties, according to state investigators, and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales wants to seize them and return them to the national treasury.
Morales directed the filing of a forfeiture case against the estate of the Ampatuan couple acquired in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007, saying their wealth is "manifestly out of proportion" to the late governor's salary as public official and other legal sources of income.
A lifestyle check revealed that Ampatuan Sr did not declare the following properties:
- 15 real estate properties in Cotabato and Davao:
- 25 vehicles:
- 23 firearms:
Below is the Ombudsman's computation of Ampatuan's illegal wealth:
TOTAL Unexplained Wealth
Although criminal charges against Ampatuan Sr were dismissed on account of his death in July 2015, Morales said "the government is not precluded from recovering his unexplained wealth. Notably, a petition for forfeiture may still be filed against his estate.”
Morales based her resolution on Section 2 of Republic Act 1379 which states that "whatever 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.”
It appears that Ampatuan Sr had 3 favorite things he spent his money on: houses, cars, and firearms. He appeared to have a pattern of purchasing them over the years but the Ombudsman found there was a mismatch in his income and spending spree.
In 2002, for example, Ampatuan Sr was recorded to have earned P310,773 only, but he was able to buy a house in Davao City, two Ford cars paid for in cash, and various firearms with a total amount of P6.3 million.
In 2003, his recorded income was P1.19 million only, but he was able to buy two Toyota Hilux vans and various firearms, and pay for the renovation of his house in Shariff Aguak for a total expenditure of P3.35 million.
In 2005, his net income was P1.5 million only, yet he bought a farm lot in Shariff Aguak, a lot in Cotabato City, one Toyota Hilux, and several more firearms, bringing his spending total for that year at P3.57 million.
In 2006, his net income was again P1.5 million, but he bought another lot, another car, and more firearms for P2.17 million.
Finally in 2007, Ampatuan Sr earned P1.6 million but he spent P42 million in acquiring more real estate and improving those he already owned. He also bought a Toyota Hiace, a Toyota Hilux, and two Honda motorcycles totalling P3.22 million. He allegedly paid for all the vehicles in cash.
Before his death, Ampatuan Sr had explained that his wealth was inherited from his father Hadji Aguak Ampatuan who he described as an "affluent man owning several pieces of land, businesses and properties."
He also said that his periodic income from his farming business allowed him to pay the installments of his acquisitions.
He also denied owning several properties attributed to him by the Ombudsman's lifestyle check, and defended his non-declaration as being due to his detention in 2009 for being the prime suspect for the Maguindanao massacre.
He also explained that some of the vehicles found by the lifestyle check belong to relatives and friends who bring them over to the small mechanic shop that he owned. Some of the vehicles, he said, were either non-functional or badly damaged and therefore had no commercial value.
Ampatuan Sr admitted to owning the firearms but he said they were given to him by friends.
"There is convincing evidence that he and his family failed to lead modest lives appropriate to their positions and income due to their extravagant and ostentatious display of wealth, hence, there is sufficient ground for this Office to institute the appropriate forfeiture proceedings against Ampatuan's estate," Morales said in her resolution.
Ampatuan Sr died at the age of 74 while on trial for the Maguindanao massacre. He had liver cancer.
He is one of the more than 100 individuals accused, including his son Andal "Unsay" Ampatuan Jr, in the massacre of 58 people in 2009, believed to have been plotted to thwart the gubernatorial candidacy of rival Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu for the 2010 May elections.
Mangudadatu sent a convoy of vehicles that included his wife, lawyers, and other female relatives to file his certificate of candidacy in Sultan Kudarat. Thirty-two journalists were present to cover Mangudadatu's candidacy. The convoy, among them two civilian vehicles, was stopped at a hillside by waiting gunmen. – Rappler.com