Sandiganbayan directed to confiscate ex-Calauan mayor’s assets

The writ of execution directs the Sandiganbayan sheriffs to begin confiscating the assets identified in its Civil Case number 0153. While the defendants say they have not received the court’s resolution, court records say otherwise.

Published 9:26 AM, August 09, 2017

Updated 9:26 AM, August 09, 2017

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Special Prosecutor asked the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to enforce its forfeiture judgment against the wealth of former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez and his wife Editha Sanchez.

The judgment, issued a year ago, was brought up in a comment/opposition filed by Assistant Special Prosecutor Sheri P. Zales last August 3.

Zales said the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division already put up a writ of execution dated June 1, 2017.

The writ of execution directs the Sandiganbayan sheriffs to begin confiscating the assets identified in its Civil Case no. 0153.

The defendants, however, asked the Sandiganbayan to set aside the writ. They claim they have yet to be furnished a copy of the court’s resolution – issued on October 19, 2016 – which denied the Sanchez couple’s motion for reconsideration.

Zales, however, belied claims of the Sanchez couple that they were not given a copy of the resolution. Records showed the former mayor received a copy on October 27, 2016.

Sandiganbayan Sheriff Henry Villanueva, meanwhile, said he attempted twice to serve a separate copy to the defendants’ counsel, Alexander Nala. Villanueva added the office was closed both times, and that in an urgent motion/manifestation dated June 16, 2017, Nala told the court that he changed addresses.

“In view hereof, it is respectfully prayed that this Urgent Motion/Manifestation…be denied and the writ of execution dated June 16, 2017 issued by this Honorable Court be implemented,” the Ombudsman prosecutor said.

The complaint said Sanchez served as Calauan vice mayor from 1972-1980, mayor from 1980 to 1986, and was re-elected mayor from 1988 to 1993. He earned lawful income of P1,882,145. Graft investigators, however, traced 21 residential and farm lots, a P5-million mansion, luxury cars, and bank accounts in Sanchez’s name with a combined value of P15,701,341 back in 1993.

The subsequent forfeiture case involved a petition to forfeit the supposed unlawfully acquired propety and was filed in August 1993 by then-Ombudsman Conrado M. Vasquez and former Solicitor General Raul Goco.

A trial also showed the couple was able to send their children to pricey schools abroad, all while going on foreign trips.

Sanchez claimed to have other sources of income, but failed to present evidence to support his claim.

Disproportionate

By declaring the disputed assets forfeited in favor of the State, the Sandiganbayan said, “respondents’ assets and expenses are grossly and manifestly disproportionate to their legitimate income.”

As a result, the assets were seen as “unlawfully acquired and subject to forfeiture.”

Associate Justice Rafael Lagos penned the decision concurred in by former Associate Justices Roland B. Jurado (now retired) and Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega.

Among the assets the anti-graft court planned to confiscate and award to the state were 19 parcels of land, a residential building, a 1987 Mercedes Benz Model 230E, a 1991 Dodge Caravan, the couple’s investment in ERAIS Lending, and P246,120 in cash in their bank accounts – including interest that were earlier garnished by the Sandiganbayan.

Mayor Sanchez is serving multiple life terms due to a conviction for the rape-slay of University of the Philippines student Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of her boyfriend Allan Gomez back in 1993.

Court informants, meanwhile, added the forfeiture case took more than two decades to resolve because the defendants repeatedly requested and were granted postponements, in a possible attempt to reach a settlement. – Rappler.com