The Supreme Court has lifted the freeze order issued by the Court of Appeals on the properties and monetary instruments of the brother-in-law of retired military comptroller Lt. Gen. Jacinto Ligot.
Ligot is undergoing trial before the Sandiganbayan for allegedly amassing ill-gotten wealth when he was the comptroller of the Armed Forces of the Philippines from July 1999 to March 2001 and for not declaring P54 million worth of assets in his Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth.
In the case of Ligot’s brother-in-law, Edgardo Yambao, the SC held the lifting of the freeze order that covered bank accounts and vehicles under his name is warranted following the Court’s promulgation of the Rule of Procedure in Cases of Civil Forfeiture, Asset Preservation, and Freezing of Monetary Instrument, Property, or Proceeds Representing, Involving, or Relating to an Unlawful Activity or Money Laundering Offense in 2005.
The tribunal noted it previously granted Ligot, his wife Erlinda and their children’s petition to lift the freeze order issued by the CA based on the same ground.
The said Rule provides for a summary or post-issuance hearing within the 20-day period of effectivity of a freeze order and sets a limit on the extension of the order to a period not exceeding six months.
On March 6, 2013, the SC’s Second Division agreed with the Ligots’ petition contesting the six-month extension of the freeze order that the CA issued on July 5, 2005.
The high court, however, reiterated there was probable cause to justify the issuance by the CA of the freeze order against Yambao’s bank accounts and vehicles.
In Yambao’s case, the SC noted that aside from being Ligot’s brother-in-law, the investigation by the Ombudsman revealed that he had no ample income to acquire substantial assets, reinforcing the belief that he was acting as a dummy for the Ligots.
The CA ‘s freeze order stemmed from the June 27, 2005 request of the Anti-Money Laundering Council to freeze the assets of Ligot, who is accused of amassing millions of pesos in ill-gotten wealth
The SC said its ruling should be “without prejudice to, and shall not affect, the preservation orders, if any, that the Sandiganbayan may have issued over said monetary instruments and properties relative to the forfeiture case against petitioner filed before said court.”