An anarchy of mansions

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FORMER Maguindanao Governor Andal Salibo Ampatuan Sr. is, as far as his statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) are concerned, a simple farmer. His son Zaldy, formerly the regional governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), has no other source of income, apart from the pawnshop owned by his wife Johaira.

Yet these two members of the Ampatuan clan alone own 65 properties scattered throughout Maguindanao, Cotabato City, Davao City, and even in ritzy Dasmariñas Village in Makati, home to many foreign embassies and a refuge of the country’s rich and famous. These real properties range from a two-hectare farm lot in Cotabato City, to magnificent structures in Davao City and Shariff Aguak that tower over the simple abodes of one of the country’s poorest provinces. One residential property in Davao City alone covers at least 4,000 square meters, and has a mansion that dwarfs other high-end homes with its opulence.

These properties are included in an array of assets of the Ampatuans that are covered by a 23-page freeze order issued by the Court of Appeals. The order was first issued on Jun. 6, 2011. It has since been extended, but unless there is another extension, the order will remain in effect only until Dec. 2 this year.

It was the Anti-Money Laundering Council or AMLC that had asked the court for a freeze order on all the known assets of the Ampatuans, who were implicated in the infamous 2009 Maguindanao Massacre.

AMLC based its petition, which it submitted to the Court on May 30, 2011, on two major documents: the results of a special audit conducted by the Commission on Audit (COA) on the expenditures of the ARMM from January 2008 to September 2009, and the results of a lifestyle check conducted by a special panel headed by Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Humphrey T. Monteroso.

But it was the Ombudsman panel’s lifestyle check, submitted on June 29, 2010, that appeared to be a major factor in convincing the Court of Appeals to issue the freeze order. (Then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez approved Deputy Ombudsman Monteroso’s report on Aug. 16, 2010. Copies of the lifestyle check report were to have been submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Philippine National Police, and COA.)

The Ombudsman’s lifestyle check showed that the two Ampatuan family members “accumulated wealth in excess and out of proportion to their legitimate income.”

In part, the report said that based on the documents gathered by the panel, “Andal S. Ampatuan Sr. owned at least 27 houses and lots located at Shariff Aguak, Cotabato City, and Davao City worth an estimated P90,463,262.78, most of which were not declared in his Statements of Assets, and Liabilities.”

The lifestyle panel noted that Andal Sr. declared real properties worth only P21,506,500 when he last filed his SALN in 2007.

Monteroso’s lifestyle panel, meanwhile, said that Zaldy owned at least 38 houses and lots located in Shariff Aguak, Cotabato City, Davao City, and in Metro Manila “worth an estimated P58,488,545.40, most of which were not declared in his Statements of Assets and Liabilities.”

Zaldy had declared real properties worth P34,196,333.50 in his last SALN filed in 2009.

According to the Ombudsman panel, the younger Ampatuan’s real properties include:

  • A stately mansion along Tamarind Road in upscale Dasmariñas Village in Makati, reportedly listed under the name of a Delia Sumail. The mansion presently appears unoccupied, although sources revealed that Zaldy used to conduct some of his businesses here when he was in Manila. Too, staffers from the ARMM liaison office in Manila would deliver documents meant for Zaldy’s perusal to this address.
  • A residential unit on the 21st floor of the Lotus Tower of the Oriental Gardens condominium along Pasong Tamo in Makati, near Buendia Avenue.
  • A mansion along Kalamansi street in Juna Subdivision, just a stone’s throw away from the grander mansion of his father, Andal Sr.
  • At least 14 houses and lots distributed throughout Davao City: Nova Tierra Subdivision, Robinsons Highlands, and Juna Subdivision.
  • At least 13 houses and lots throughout Cotabato City, mostly in the San Isidro area.

“The panel contends that these undeclared values of real properties can neither be explained nor justified by the net or disposable income of respondent as derived from his Annual Income Tax Returns,” it said in its report.

Zaldy, said the panel, did not appear to have any other means of making a living aside from his salary as Regional Governor of the ARMM.

“The only business interest and financial connection that Zaldy Ampatuan declared was that of the Maguindanao Pawnshop owned by his spouse, Johaira ‘Bongbong’ Midtimbang Ampatuan,” it said.

As for Ampatuan Sr., the lifestyle check panel found that he had not even declared a single real property in Davao City and Cotabato City. And yet Davao City is home to possibly the largest mansion allegedly owned by Andal Sr., a multi-structure mansion that covers an entire block along Kasuy and Kalamansi streets in upscale Juna Subdivision.

The mansion remains unfinished, as parts of the stone and concrete fence had not yet been fully painted. But solar panels have already been installed on the roof, reportedly in order to power water heaters for an indoor swimming pool. That mansion was raided by operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation backed up by army armored personnel carriers in December 2009, when the government was still looking for firearms owned by the Ampatuans. That lot covers 4,105 square meters in a residential neighborhood.

Other real properties allegedly owned by Andal Sr. include:

  • Various properties in Davao City, including several parcels of land in Juna Subdivision, Marfori Heights, and Matina Crossing.
  • Various properties in Cotabato City, notably in Moreno Subdivision, Kakar, and Rosary Heights.
  • Various properties in Shariff Aguak, including the mansion along the national highway near the capitol. The compound of the mansion is so large that it also houses Andal Sr.’s personal mosque.

The panel noted that Andal Sr. had no visible means of livelihood other than a farm he had declared in his SALNs, which earned him “a farm business income of less than P200,000” from 2001 to 2002. Nevertheless, it said that Andal Sr.’s income surged to P1,558,220.60 in 2003, “eight times higher than the previous year’s amount.”

“This sudden surge in income is highly questionable considering that the only declared business of Andal S. Ampatuan Sr. was his farm business,” the lifestyle check panel reported. – PCIJ, November 2011

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