The Sandiganbayan has ruled that P9 million worth of former Manila Vice Mayor Danilo Lacuna and wife Melanie’s assets are ill-gotten wealth and should be returned to the government.
In a 53-page ruling, the anti-graft court said the total value of the properties acquired by the couple from 1998 to 2004 when Danilo was Vice Mayor of Manila amounted to P20,707.168.84—an amount it said was manifestly out of proportion from their combined income of P11,703,289.42.
“The difference of P9,003,879.42 is too large if the six-year period from 1998-2004 is to be considered. This disproportion creates a disputable presumption that the properties acquired from 1998 to 2004 were unlawfully acquired and that the respondents-spouses have the burden of rebutting the presumption,” the anti-graft court said.
“Although the respondents-spouses insist that they had savings and secured loans to purchase the real properties or that respondent Melanie inherited a fishpond, there was no proof of actual income derived therefrom,” the anti-graft court added.
While the Lacuna couple’s children testified that they were helping their parents defray their expenses, the Sandiganbayan argued that such claims are not sufficient to establish any regular financial support coming from their children.
The court cited there was no justifiable explanation given regarding the shares of stock which respondent Danilo declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
“Wherefore, in view of the foregoing, the petition filed by the Republic of the Philippines is hereby granted. Accordingly, this Court declares the properties of the respondents-spouses Danilo and Melanie Lacuna, in the total amount of P9,003,879.42 million as unlawfully acquired and is hereby ordered forfeited in favor of the state,” the Sandiganbayan ruling read.
The Lacuna couple’s P20 million worth of assets, which were the subject of the forfeiture case include two house and lot, one unit of Honda CRV, one unit of Hyundai Starex and stocks based on the respondent’s SALN.