Ampatuans: Billionaires of 3rd poorest province?

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 09 2009 07:35 PM | Updated as of Dec 10 2009 10:43 AM

One of the Ampatuans' mansions in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao

MANILA, Philippines - Officially, the networth of the Ampatuan clan's patriarch is P11 million. Unofficially, however, the wealth of embattled Andal Ampatuan Sr., former Maguindanao governor, and his family members, could reach up to at least P1.3 billion.

The official accounting of Ampatuan Sr.’s wealth was based on the 2002 statement of assets, liabilities and networth disclosed by the Maguindanao governor to the government. 

Aside from Ampatuan Sr., who has been a politician for decades, other relatives also hold various public positions. Public officials are required to submit an accounting of their wealth for transparency.

Recently, Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera said the government is already moving to freeze the assets of the Ampatuan clan and that the Anti-Money Laundering Council has started looking into the assets of the Ampatuans.

She said a freeze order on the Ampatuan's wealth may be forthcoming.

Mansions

The P11 million official networth of the Ampatuan Sr. is far from the reported assets believed to be owned by the clan he heads.

He and family members are reported to own the following properties:
- 16 homes in Davao City
- 14 houses located in Maguindanao province, divided among family members
- 2 houses in nearby Tacurong City in adjacent Sultan Kudarat province
- 2 mansions in Metro Manila - one in Makati City and another in posh Alabang village.

These properties, believed to be listed under different names, are estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of pesos.

Billionaire Ampatuan

An ABS-CBN News source said almost all of the houses have vaults that contain weapons and cash.

According to a source from the police, the cash of the Ampatuans, hidden in various locations, aggregate to about P1.3 billion.

Another source said total cash could reach up to P3 billion since the Ampatuans prefer to stay liquid instead of stashing them in bank accounts or other financial instruments that are regulated.

In the latest raid conducted by the military on several Ampatuan homes in Maguindanao, no cash was retrieved.

Authorities suspect the family was able to hide the money before martial law was declared over the province.

Sources familiar with the wealth and investments of the Ampatuans said the family’s personal bank accounts, as well as the company accounts of their businesses, have also been cleaned out.

Poor kingdom

If these are true, the Ampatuans have amassed billions of pesos in wealth while the rest of Maguindanao wallowed in poverty.

The National Statistics Coordinating Board said Maguindanao is the third poorest province in the Philippines.

The Ampatuans own several businesses in the province, including a gasoline station and a pawnshop.

The government is currently studying assets of the Ampatuan clan that could not have been acquired with their meager salaries as public officials.

After the government concludes its investigation into the massacre and rebellion cases against the Ampatuans, its next target is the unlawfully accumulated assets of the clan. Executive secretary Eduardo Ermita said these will be frozen and seized. - from a report of Ces Drilon, ABS-CBN News