Resorts World gunman attended hearing for P6M forfeiture case before attack

Lian Buan

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Resorts World gunman attended hearing for P6M forfeiture case before attack
Carlos offers to pay government P1.2 million instead of P6.4 million, but Ombudsman prosecutors reject this as his forfeiture case continues

MANILA, Philippines – The CCTV footage presented by the police traces the steps of gunman Jessie Javier Carlos all the way to the evening of Thursday, June 1, where he was shown entering his house in San Lazaro, Manila only to leave again with a bag in tow.

Carlos arrived by cab at the Resorts World Casino past 12 midnight on Friday, June 2, and went on to launch an attack that killed 37 people, including himself.

But where else did he go the day before? He was in court in the afternoon, attending the hearing of his civil case that involves government’s attempt to seize P6-million worth of his assets.

Carlos has a P6,742,244 forfeiture case pending before Branch 30 of the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC.) At 2 pm on June 1, he attended his hearing and signed his attendance as “Jessie Carlos, 42 years old, married, unemployed.” 

The hearing ended with the scheduling of a redirect examination. He came out of that courtroom afternoon of Thursday, and we know what happened next.

Forfeiture case

Carlos was a former tax specialist with the Department of Finance (DOF) whose wealth ballooned by P9 million from year 2000 to 2010 despite earning only around P2.6 million in the same period as a DOF employee on a P17,000 monthly salary.

He was sacked and then eventually dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman which considered his unexplained wealth ill-gotten, and went on to file a forfeiture case against him at the Manila RTC.

This is separate from the Court of Appeals (CA) decision that found Carlos guilty only of dishonesty, setting aside an earlier Ombudsman finding that he amassed ill-gotten wealth. 

The forfeiture case progressed at the Manila Court, with its next hearing set in August. These cases all stem from the DOF which filed the initial complaint against its former employee.

Civil Case 15133167 was filed against Carlos on March 6, 2015 before Manila RTC Branch 30, with his wife Angelita Agcopra Carlos as co-respondent.

Prosecutors from the Ombudsman, the petitioner in the case, want to forfeit in favor of government P6,742,244 because that’s the difference in Carlos’ wealth and his income at the DOF.

Aside from questions on misdeclarations in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN), Ombudsman prosecutors are scrutinizing his huge debts, saying Carlos was unable to provide proper documentation of his loans to support his claims.

“In an attempt to show that respondent had other sources of income, Carlos made it appear that he has incurred large amount of loans involving millions of pesos. These alone, however, cannot support his contentions that, indeed, he has lawfully incurred these borrowings absence of any document where it can be shown who his creditors were,” says the charge sheet, seen by Rappler. (READ: Resorts World gunman: Gov’t worker sacked for unexplained wealth)

GUNMAN'S LAST WHEREABOUTS. Resorts World Manila attack gunman Jessie Javier Carlos attends his hearing for his P6 million forfeiture case at the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 30 afternoon of June 1, 2017 or hours before he launched the attack at the casino which killed 37 including himself. Photo by Lian Buan

Sources of income

Police say Carlos was a heavy gambler, a “high roller” who usually placed a minimum bet of P40,000 and was put on a casino blacklist upon the request of his family.

But Carlos never mentioned this in any of his affidavits based on case records at Branch 30. 

In a judicial affidavit filed in April this year, Carlos said his other sources of income are cockfighting and mining.

Carlos said he started being involved in cockfighting in 2006 and that aside from playing odds, he also bought and sold fighting cocks, his receipts and bills provided in the annex of his affidavit.

Carlos also said he got into mining in 2009 where he earned around P100,000 a month.

“There was a gold rush in Maragusan, Compostela Valley way back in 2009. I bought gold ore per bag worth P300,000 to P500,000. Thereafter, the gold ore will be brought to the milling plant for extraction. Afterwhich, the gold mill will be sold to the buyer. I ear P50,000 per milling, milling happens twice a month,” Carlos said in his affidavit. (READ: Palace suspects negligence by Resorts World Manila)

Wife’s gunstore

Carlos’ wife Angelita is being scrutinized for a business under her name, Armset Trading, a gun store with a previously registered address identical to their home in San Lazaro, Manila.

Armset Trading was not declared in Carlos’ SALN because he said the business was not operating.

In an affidavit filed in 2016, Angelita said Armset Trading never took off, and therefore, was not a source of income.

“I intended to set up a business involving guns and ammunition which I named Armset Trading but was not successful. Because we failed to secure a license or permit to deal in firearms and ammunition by Camp Crame…I have no shop or place that has been approved by Crame suitable for the trade,” Angelita said in her affidavit.

Case records, however, show a photo of their San Lazaro home with a signboard bearing the name “Armset Trading.” There is also a certification issued in 2011 by the Department of Trade and Industry naming Angelita as the owner of Armset Trading.

The chief of the Philippine National Police-Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) was repeatedly subpoenaed by the court to testify on the permit issues of Armset trading, but a representative never appeared in court. The last subpoena was for a hearing on March 16, 2017 but a representative from the office also didn’t show up. (READ: From relief to despair: Brother of Resorts World victim recalls fretful wait)

Carlos wanted to settle

In January 2016, Carlos filed a motion to settle where he expressed his willingness to pay the government P1.2 million instead of P6.7 million. The condition of the payment was that “upon fulfillment of respondents’ obligation in accordance with the compromise agreement, the case should be dismissed.”

A month after, in February 2016, the Ombudsman rejected the settlement offer, saying the compromise agreement was “disadvantageous to the government.”

“The republic has a strong case against the respondents,” reads the Ombudsman’s reply to Carlos’ motion.

“The pieces of evidence for the Republic will clearly show that the lawful income of the respondents are not sufficient to amass the properties enumerated in the SALNs of Carlos, who was earning a mere (net) monthly salary of P15,900 in the year 2010,” the Ombudsman’s comment reads.

Carlos appealed this again and said: “The respondents are humbly asking the petitioner to consider their offer and if they are not amenable to the said offer, make a counter-offer so that the respondent can take into account and eventually arrive at an amicable settlement of the instant case.”

Case goes on

The transcript of the proceedings on Thursday may provide clues on Carlos’ demeanor hours before he carried out the attack at the Resorts World Casino, but the court refused to show the transcript.

What we know now is that even with Carlos’ death, this P6-million forfeiture case goes on.

Section 4, Rule 111 of the Rules of Court says that liability may be enforced against the dead’s estate and that the “heirs of the accused may be substituted for the deceased without requiring the appointment of an executor or administrator.” 

This, apart from the fact that his widow Angelita is a co-respondent, although she had earlier manifested that she should not be included in the case because according to her, there was “no allegation of conspiracy with her husband which would make her a party to this case.”

In fighting this case, Carlos had accused the government of resorting to “general allegations and assumptions tantamount to a fishing expedition meant to harass him.”

Carlos is survived by wife Angelita and their 3 children, the youngest around 8-9 years old. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.