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Family feud: Journalist Rico Hizon, siblings charged with estafa by brother

Joann Manabat

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Family feud: Journalist Rico Hizon, siblings charged with estafa by brother

SUED. Broadcast journalist Rico Hizon.

File photo

(1st UPDATE) The broadcast journalist and his two sisters posted bail on March 25 after a court ordered them arrested due to a case filed by their brother

PAMPANGA, Philippines – Broadcast journalist Rico Hizon and his sisters are caught in a family dispute over an inheritance, with their brother filing an estafa case against them in Angeles City, Pampanga.

The eldest brother of the siblings, Ernesto, filed two counts of estafa involving more than P760 million against former anchor of the now-defunct CNN Philippines and his siblings Maria Belen Hizon and Bernadette Hizon-Deduque.

Judge Rodrigo del Rosario of the Regional Trial Court Branch 114 in Angeles City issued an arrest warrant on March 25, a copy of which Rappler obtained on Monday, April 1.

The court had set the bail bond at P120,000 each.

In a statement from Rico and his two co-accused siblings sent to Rappler , they said they posted bail on the same day they were ordered arrested, “and the court issued an order recalling the warrant of arrest.”

“We have an ongoing family dispute, which unfortunately has resulted in our brother, Ernesto Hizon, filing a criminal case against my two sisters and I. The dispute involves our inheritance in our aunt’s estate. Instead of sitting down with us to come up with a fair and just settlement, Ernesto has resorted to filing cases to harass us into getting his way,” they said.

The three said the criminal case was filed in court even before they received a resolution from the Office of the City Prosecutor.

“We, therefore, find it somewhat malicious that the warrant of arrest received by the office of Ernesto’s lawyer was furnished to the local media after this warrant was recalled,” they said.

“Despite all these irregularities, we are determined to defend our names and ensure that this case which is founded on unjust, baseless and hurtful claims made by Ernesto is dismissed.”

Based on the resolution from the city prosecutor’s office, Ernesto sued his siblings for alleged anomalous financial transactions in their family-owned company, Morlan Realty Corporation.

All four siblings own shares of 0.007% each, and the three respondents in the lawsuit are members of the company’s board of directors. Their deceased aunt owned 96% of the total shares.

Prosecutors said Ernesto flagged P60 million in advances issued to his three siblings in 2018 and P760 million in 2021.

The three siblings were indicted on March 20. The complaint was filed in November 2023.

“Complainant also discovered that based on the financial statements for 2018 secured from the Securities and Exchange Commission, that notwithstanding the income earned for 2018 in the amount of P968,780,768, no dividend was declared by the board of directors and management of the corporation composed of herein respondents, purportedly because they have reserved P803 million of the retained earnings for expansion,” the resolution read in part.

Ernesto alleged that his repeated demands were supposedly ignored, prompting him to file the case.

Prosecutors also said Rico and his two sisters were informed of the complaint against them and failed to submit controverting evidence. – Rappler.com

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