Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - United States Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr. announced Thursday that the US government had turned over to the Philippines US$132,000 worth of forfeited assets of Erlinda Ligot, wife of former military comptroller Lieutenant General Jacinto Ligot.
"Today, I am pleased to announce the first ever return of funds in the asset forfeiture case where the US government is returning $132,000 to the Philippine government," Thomas announced in a meeting with Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.
In 2009, the Philippines made a request before the US government pursuant to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) to look into real-estate transactions of assets belonging to Mrs. Ligot.
"I think this is to show the benefits of the MLAT we have with the Philippines and to show the confidence that the US government places in the Aquino administration that this will be returned to the Philippine treasury and will be used for the benefit of the Filipino people," Thomas said, adding that this was not the first and that there would be more cases "where we will be cooperating with the Philippine government."
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said the amount came from the proceeds of the property located at 70102 Stanton Avenue, Buenas Park in California.
De Lima explained that the initial request came in 2005 after the filing of a forfeiture case against Ligot before the Sandiganbayan under then Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo.
"It was ordered forfeited in the US under administrative forfeiture proceedings and upon learning of that in 2009, the DoJ, then under Secretary Agnes Devanadera, made the official request for the turnover of the proceeds," De Lima said.
The Ligots are facing a P428-million ($9.9 million) tax evasion case with the DoJ.
Based on the complaint filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, General Ligot failed to file his income tax return (ITRs) for taxable year 2001 while Erlinda failed to file hers from 2001 to 2004.
The two also failed to declare their income net worth of P41.854 million in 2001; P103.6 million in 2002; P165.367 million in 2003; and P148.955 million in 2004.
Some of the properties allegedly owned by the Ligots which were revealed during a Senate inquiry included houses in Makati City, Cabernet Circle, Anaheim, California and Stanton Avenue, Buenas Park in California.
Reposted From Tetch Torres of PDI and ANN (Asian News Network)