'No graft case vs Ligot despite P740-M in bank'

By Angelo Gutierrez, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Feb 18 2011 03:56 PM | Updated as of Feb 19 2011 06:56 AM

MANILA - The Office of the Ombudsman has been sitting for 3 years now on records that could be used as basis for the filing of a multi-million graft case against former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot, Senator Franklin Drilon said on Friday.

At the resumption of the Senate’s inquiry on corruption in the military, Drilon presented financial records under the name of Ligot, his wife and 3 children, and a brother-in-law.

Drilon said that based on the records, which he obtained from the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 61, the retired lieutenant general and members of his family had at least P740 million deposited in various dollar and peso bank accounts from 2001 to 2005.

Drilon said that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) was able to freeze only P73.6 million of the amount.

Asked about the bank accounts and the amount, Ligot invoked his right against self incrimination.

Before Drilon presented the documents during the hearing, he asked Ligot about the source of income of his family.

Ligot said that in 2001, he was serving as a commander of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division and was receiving P30,000 monthly.

The former military budget officer said his wife was jobless; his son Paolo was managing a farm and earning between P20,000 and P30,000; his daughter Riza was a call center agent also receiving at least P30,000, and another child was still a student.

Drilon, who questioned how Ligot and his family was able to deposit such an amount in banks, said the former military comptroller failed to declare the bank accounts in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) when he was up for confirmation at the Commission on Appointments.

Ligot again invoked his right against self incrimination when asked if he declared the amount in his income tax return.

No graft case?

Special Prosecutor Wendell Sulit said during the hearing, however, that her office does not have Ligot's financial records.

Sulit said that it was only during the hearing that she saw the bank records.

She added that what they have are records of Ligot’s properties, which are subject of a forfeiture case.

Alice Villarama, an investigator from the AMLC, said during the hearing that she and a fellow investigator personally delivered the documents to Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez on May 2008.

Drilon said that the documents, with the “staggering” amount, could have been used as basis for a graft case against Ligot.

“It was referred to the Office of the Ombudsman 3 years ago. The fact is, as we talk today, there is no graft case pending,” the senator said, which was answered by Sulit in the affirmative.

The senator added that the AMLC’s investigation has been put to waste for the last 3 years since it cannot pursue a money laundering case against Ligot without a graft case being filed by the Office of Ombudsman.

“Because no graft case has been filed, no anti-money laundering case can be filed, no predicate crime that the AMLC can relay on. That is the effect of the non-filing of any graft case,” he said.