Ex-ARMM Governor Zaldy Ampatuan dismissed over undeclared wealth

MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales belatedly ordered on Thursday, July 30, the dismissal Zaldy Ampatuan, supposedly as Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). 

The former governor is held administratively liable for misdeclaring his wealth for about a decade ending in 2009, the year he and his father and brothers were named suspects in the massacre of 58 people in their home province of Maguindanao.

In a media release on Thursday, the Ombudsman said Ampatuan was liable for serious dishonesty and grave misconduct after he willfully failed to declare P43.73 million worth of wealth in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs) from 2000 to 2009. They are:

"The aggregate amount of his properties was [also] established to be manifestly and grossly disproportionate to his lawful and legitimate income during his 8-year incumbency," the Ombudsman's release said.

“Respondent not only failed to disclose all his and his wife’s assets, but he also failed to provide any explanation as to how he and/or his wife acquired these assets,” the decision read.

“An honest public servant will have no difficulty in gathering, collating, and presenting evidence that will prove his credibility, but a dishonest one will only provide shallow excuses in his explanations,” it continued.

“Respondent’s repeated failure to make truthful statements in all his SALNs not only transgressed established rules but is also an indicia of his willful intent” to circumvent the law, the decision said.

Section 8(a) of Republic Act 6713 mandates public officials and employees to accomplish and submit their SALNs every year, while sections 7 and 8 of RA 3019 require that these sworn declarations be detailed and truthful.

Alternative penalty

Since the penalty of dismissal can no longer be executed, the Ombudsman said an alternative penalty will be imposed on Ampatuan. He will fined an amount equivalent to his one-year salary when he was governor.

Ampatuan will no longer be eligible for civil service and will be perpetually disqualified from holding public office. His retirement benefits are forfeited and he is barred from taking civil service examinations.

Zaldy Ampatuan was suspended over the Maguindanao massacre of November 2009, where 58 people, including mediamen, who were supportive of a rival politician was killed.

Rebellion charges were later filed against him and other suspects. 

Two officers in charge were named in place of him until a replacement, Mujiv Hataman, was elected in 2013. Rappler.com