Sandigan affirms gov’t claim over sequestered beachfront property

Rappler.com
The anti-graft court says that because the property was already part of a pending forfeiture case, the Sandiganbayan already had custody over it the moment the case was filed

Facade of Sandiganbayan in Quezon City. File photo by Jansen Romero/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s 5th division denied a motion for reconsideration seeking to nullify the sale of a 7,087-square-meter beach front property that the government is after.

The contested property in Mabini, Batangas is part of the ill-gotten wealth case filed by the government via the Presidential Commission on Good Government in 1987 against Benjamin “Kokoy” Romualdez, brother of former first lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos and brother-in-law of former president Ferdinand Marcos.

The 4-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega denied with finality the motion filed by Jaime Cura, former president of Philippine Journalists Inc (PJI). Cura wanted to dismiss government’s claim.

But the anti-graft court said in its resolution: “After a meticulous scrutiny of the Motion for Reconsideration and a second hard look on the allegations of defendant Cura, we discern no persuasive reason to overturn the Court’s Resolution dated August 9, 2016.” Furthermore, it said “the arguments raised in the instant motion are mere rehash and reiterations of the issues… which have already been resolved by this Court.”

The Sandiganbayan also said the PCGG was able to present evidence to prove the Batangas property was already covered by legal action when Cura tried to claim ownership of it through a supposed purchase contract dated June 5, 1991.

Cura tried to dismiss government’s claims, arguing that there was no valid sequestration over the property. He said his purchase of ownership was binding.

The court however ruled in favor of the PCGG which said the property was among those covered by Civil Case no. 0035 filed in 1987. That case sought forfeiture of the ill-gotten wealth of Benjamin Romualdez.

Because the property was already part of a pending forfeiture case, the Sandiganbayan already had custody over it the moment the case was filed. Hence, unless ordered by the court or until ownership is settled with finality, the transfer, sale or any other means of disposition of the property is prohibited. – Rappler.com