PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE anti-graft court has started to move on personal assets of pardoned President Joseph Estrada and set its sights on 100 cars registered under his name with the Land Transportation Office.
Sandiganbayan Sheriff Eduardo Urieta went to the agency yesterday to seek its help in identifying vehicles owned by the former president.
In a letter addressed to Transportation Chief Reynaldo Berroya, Urieta asked the office to furnish them copies of all vehicles registered under the name of Joseph Ejercito Estrada, so that proper proceedings may be undertaken in accordance with the rules of court.
Urieta, in an interview, said the court knew that Estrada owned at least four sports utility vehicles that could be subject to forfeiture and needed the help of the agency to confirm this.
Urieta emphasized that only properties under the name of Estrada would be confiscated, noting that if a property was under a corporation, these could not be levied even if Estrada was an incorporator.
Estrada told a radio interview that he had divested himself of ownership of these properties, noting that the Polk Street residence and his vehicles were registered under a family corporation.
Urieta said they would send out invitations to newspapers for publication of notices auctioning the controversial Boracay Mansion in New Manila, Quezon City.
Estrada’s personal and real properties are to be confiscated to satisfy obligations to turn over to the government properties ordered forfeited by the court based on the plunder conviction it handed down Sept. 12.
The deadline for Estrada to comply with the court’s forfeiture order lapsed at midnight yesterday.
Based on the plunder conviction, Estrada was ordered to turn over P545.29 million with interest and income earned inclusive of the amount of P200 million deposited in the account of the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation; P189.7 million, inclusive of interest and income earned and deposited in the Jose Velarde account; and the Boracay Mansion located at 100 11th St., New Manila, Quezon City.
Urieta said one title of the Boracay Mansion showed the lot consisted of 5,198 square meters, which had been levied.
The other title consisting of about 2,000 sq. m. is also owned by St. Peter Holdings.
Urieta said the Quezon City government could not stop the auction and that only the Sandiganbayan and the Supreme Court could do so.
But Quezon City Treasurer Vic Endriga said the city government was the only one that could handle the Boracay Mansion.
“Quezon City will assert its ownership right over the property,” Endriga told Standard Today. He had previously threatened to sue the Sandiganbayan if the graft court went ahead with its plan to put the property up for auction.
In a statement, Estrada said he was prepared for a protracted legal battle and would exhaust all legal means available to protect the properties he acquired before he became president.
He stressed that no forfeiture proceedings could be undertaken until it was clearly proven that these assets were acquired while he was president.
“Under the Plunder Law, forfeiture refers only to property used in the commission of a crime; proceeds of the crime; and property derived or traceable to the instrument of proceeds of the crime,” he said.
But he said he had no intention of questioning the court’s decision ordering the forfeiture of money deposited in the account of the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation as well as the so-called Boracay Mansion, which he said he did not own.
Acting Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera yesterday warned Estrada that failure to comply with the Sandiganbayan’s forfeiture order could be grounds to revoke his pardon.