Citing lack of merit, the Sandiganbayan has denied the motion of former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot and his family members to dismiss the P55-million forfeiture case filed against them.
In denying the joint demurrer to evidence filed by Ligot and his co-accused, the anti-graft court’s Second Division said the prosecution presented sufficient evidence to warrant the continuation of the trial of the case.
“Since most of the respondents assertions are already matters of defense, which are addressed in a full-blown trial, the presentation of respondents evidence is in order, the resolution written by Associate Justice Frederick Musngi said.
Ligot’s co-accused include his wife Erlinda; children Paulo, Riza and Miguel; brother-in-law Edgardo Yambao; and Mrs. Ligot’s cousin Gilda Alfonso-Velasquez.
In the nine-page resolution dated July 8, the anti-graft court also noted that several of the accused’s claims, like allegations of forum shopping or filing two charges for a single case, and the supposed violations of the Bank Secrecy Law, had already been addressed during the proceedings.
“Considering that the said issue had already been extensively discussed in the Court’s resolutions dated 10 March 2014 and 30 June 2004, the Court reiterates its findings that there is no violation of the rule instituting more than one suit for a single cause of action.
“The respondents continued to anchor on the dismissal of the instant case on the ground of violation of the laws on the Secrecy of Bank Deposits. However, the same was also laid to rest not only by this Court […] but also by the Supreme Court when it upheld the same.”
The Ombudsman has filed several cases against Ligot and members of his family for allegedly amassing P135,280,822.11 in unexplained wealth, including several hectares of land in Bukidnon and Rizal, high-end condominium units, houses and lots in the United States, motor vehicles and millions of pesos in bank placements and deposits.
It scored a win in the cases it filed against Ligot when the anti-graft court declared in April 2019 that was Ligot guilty of six counts of perjury for the false declarations in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth for 10 years and sentenced him to one-year imprisonment for each count.
But even if the sentence was to be carried out consecutively, or one after another, Ligot will still have to serve for only six years and is thus qualified to seek probation. Thus, he will not serve a single-day in prison.
The Ombudsman originally indicted Ligot for 11 counts of perjury but he was cleared of two counts due to the failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt, while the three other counts were dismissed “on the ground of prescription,” meaning the period within which they should have been filed had expired.
The government earlier lost the P428-million tax evasion case that the Ombudsman filed against Ligot and his wife Erlinda at the Court of Tax Appeals.
In addition, the Ligots have also filed a motion for the dismissal of the P55-million forfeiture case against them due to the alleged forum shopping of government prosecutors.