Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ombudsman elated with U.S. turnover of forfeited Ligot assets

The Office of the Ombudsman expressed satisfaction at the recent turnover to the Philippine government of the $132,000 check representing the proceeds of the forfeiture sale of the Buena Park, California property owned by former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot.

In a press statement released today, the Office of the Ombudsman said that Asst. Ombudsman (AO) Jose T. de Jesus Jr. said that the turnover was fruit of the prompt action initiated by Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez. “When it came to the knowledge of the Office that the property has been sold by the US government, Ombudsman Gutierrez immediately wrote the Department of Justice to request for the return of the proceeds,” AO de Jesus said.

On the basis of such request, then Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera coordinated with the US government for the return to the Philippines of the proceeds of the sale of the property. AO de Jesus said that the Ombudsman learned of the turnover of the proceeds through a letter sent by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on April 7, 2011.

“Justice Secretary de Lima informed the Ombudsman that it was US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas Jr. who turned over the check for $132,000, representing the full amount of the forfeiture sale as indicated in the Ombudsman’s request for assistance,” AO de Jesus said.

He explained that the Ombudsman had earlier requested the DOJ to assist in the return of all or some of the proceeds of the sale of the Buena Park property under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the Philippines and the US.

AO de Jesus further said that “We are happy that the efforts of the Ombudsman, under the watch of Ombudsman Gutierrez, in having this check delivered to the Philippine government have paid off.” The Buena Park property is among the alleged ill-gotten wealth covered by the forfeiture case against the Ligots, filed by the Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan in 2005.


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