MANILA, Philippines – Government prosecutors on Thursday, February 5, asked the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to freeze the assets of Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who is accused of misusing millons worth of public funds under the pork barrel scam.
The Ombudsman filed a petition for the issuance of a writ of preliminary attachment and garnishment on Estrada's assets. This is to prevent the accused from transferring his assets to another source while the case is stil being heard, said Assistant Ombudsman and spokesperson Asryman Rafanan.
Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera said the Ombudsman considers the motion as urgent to avoid the "further dissipation" of Estrada's properties and allow the government to recover public funds should the court in the future find him guilty of amassing ill-gotten wealth.
"The remedy of garnishment is primarily for money and funds. It is provisional in nature – a conservatory remedy which the court allows in certain cases and, once granted by the court, properties of the accused is frozen or held," Mosquera said.
"It is not confiscation, rather it is only the temporary freezing of money to await the final decision of the court," he added.
The petition includes Estrada's loan, real and personal properties, his bank accounts, shares of stock, financial instruments, and other properties.
A special Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) report on Estrada's wealth found that a total of P76.4 million worth of money were taken out of his accounts in the aftermath of revelations of his alleged involvement on the scam.
Estrada was charged with plunder and graft over the alleged misuse of up to P183.793 million worth of money under the now defunct Priority Development Assistance Fund.
Aside from Estrada, Senators Ramon Revilla Jr and Juan Ponce Enrile, and 5 former lawmakers have been charged with varying degrees of corruption over the biggest corruption scandal to rock the Philippines in recent years.
The Ombudsman has yet to file charges against other lawmakers and other individuals involved in the 2nd and 3rd batch of plunder complaints that the National Bureau of Investigation filed before the anti-graft body.
Under multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam, lawmakers allegedly colluded with agency officials and private individuals to steal public funds by coursing them through non-governmental organizations controlled by alleged pork barrel queen Janet Lim Napoles. – Rappler.com