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RA 9160 (ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING CASES)

LIGOT VS REPUBLIC 692 scra 509 (2013)

FACTS: This is a petition for certiorari wherein Ligot et al claim that the Court of
Appeals (CA) acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction when it issued its resolution extending the freeze order issued against
the Ligot’s properties for an indefinite period of time.

Lt. Gen. Ligot argues that the appellate court committed grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it extended the freeze order issued
against him and his family even though no predicate crime had been duly proven
or established to support the allegation of money laundering. He also maintains
that the freeze order issued against them ceased to be effective in view of the 6-
month extension limit of freeze orders provided under the Rule in Civil Forfeiture
Cases. The CA, in extending the freeze order, not only unduly deprived him and
his family of their property, in violation of due process, but also penalized them
before they had been convicted of the crimes they stand accused of.

ISSUE: Whether a petition for certiorari is the proper remedy in assailing the
said freeze order.

RULING: (Generally) NO. Certiorari not proper remedy to assail freeze order.

Section 57 of the Rule in Civil Forfeiture Cases explicitly provides the remedy
available in cases involving freeze orders issued by the CA:

Section 57. Appeal. - Any party aggrieved by the decision or ruling of the court
may appeal to the Supreme Court by petition for review on certiorari under Rule
45 of the Rules of Court. The appeal shall not stay the enforcement of the subject
decision or final order unless the Supreme Court directs otherwise. [italics
supplied]

From this provision, it is apparent that the petitioners should have filed a petition
for review on certiorari, and not a petition for certiorari, to assail the CA resolution
which extended the effectivity period of the freeze order over their properties.

Even assuming that a petition for certiorari is available to the petitioners, a review
of their petition shows that the issues they raise (i.e., existence of probable cause to
support the freeze order; the applicability of the 6-month limit to the extension of
freeze orders embodied in the Rule of Procedure in Cases of Civil Forfeiture)
pertain to errors of judgment allegedly committed by the CA, which fall outside
the Court’s limited jurisdiction when resolving certiorari petitions. As held in
People v. Court of Appeals:

In a petition for certiorari, the jurisdiction of the court is narrow in scope. It is


limited to resolving only errors of jurisdiction. It is not to stray at will and resolve
questions or issues beyond its competence such as errors of judgment. Errors of
judgment of the trial court are to be resolved by the appellate court in the appeal by
and of error or via a petition for review on certiorari in this Court under Rule 45 of
the Rules of Court. Certiorari will issue only to correct errors of jurisdiction. It is
not a remedy to correct errors of judgment. An error of judgment is one in which
the court may commit in the exercise of its jurisdiction, and which error is
reversible only by an appeal. Error of jurisdiction is one where the act complained
of was issued by the court without or in excess of jurisdiction and which error is
correctible only by the extraordinary writ of certiorari. Certiorari will not be issued
to cure errors by the trial court in its appreciation of the evidence of the parties, and
its conclusions anchored on the said findings and its conclusions of law. As long as
the court acts within its jurisdiction, any alleged errors committed in the exercise
of its discretion will amount to nothing more than mere errors of judgment,
correctible by an appeal or a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court.25 (citations omitted; italics supplied)

EXCEPTION: However, considering the issue of due process squarely brought


before us in the face of an apparent conflict between Section 10 of RA No. 9160,
as amended, and Section 53(b) of the Rule in Civil Forfeiture Cases, this Court
finds it imperative to relax the application of the rules of procedure and resolve this
case on the merits in the interest of justice

REPUBLIC V GLASGOW GR NO 170281 January 18, 2008 AMLA

FACTS:
On July 18, 2003, the Republic, as represented by the Anti-Money Laundering
Council (AMLC) filed a complaint in the Manila RTC for civil forfeiture of assets
(with urgent plea for issuance of a TRO and a writ of preliminary investigation)
against the bank deposits in an account maintained by Glasgow in Citystate
Savings Bank, Inc (CSBI). While the trial court granted the TRO and the writ of
preliminary injunction, the summons to Glasgow was returned “unserved” since it
can no longer be found at its last known address.

On October 8, 2003, the Republic filed a verified omnibus motionfor issuanceof


alias summons and leave of court to serve summons by publication.
In an order dated October 15, 2013, the trial court directed trial court directed
issuance of summons but no mention was made of the motion for leave of court to
serve by summons by publication.January 30, 2004, trial court archived the case
allegedly for failure of the Republic to serve the alias summons but the Republic
filed another motion to reinstate the case and resolve the motion for leave of court.
On an order dated May 31, 2004, court reinstated case but still did not resolve the
motion for leave of court to serve summons by publication on the reason that “any
action on such motion would be untenable if not premature.” This motion remain
unsolved.
August 11, 2005, Republic filed a manifestation and ex parte motion to resolve the
above motion.August 12, 2005, the OSG received a copy of Glasgow’s Motion to
Dismiss (By Way of Special Appearance). The motion alleged that the trial court
had no jurisdiction over its person as summons had not yet been served on it; that
the complaint was premature and stated no cause of action as there was still no
conviction for estafa or other criminal violations and there was failure to prosecute
on the part of the Republic.

The Republic opposed the Motion to Dismiss but on October 27, the trial court
dismissed the case.
ISSUE:
Whether the complaint for civil forfeiture was correctly dismissed on grounds of
improper venue, insufficiency in form and substance and failure to prosecute

HELD:
The complaint for civil forfeiture was not correctly dismissed. Petition by the
Republic was granted.
1. On issue of venue: the complaint was filed in the proper venue.
Under Section 3, Title II of the Rule of Procedure in Cases of Civil Forfeiture, “A
petition for civil forfeiture shall be filed in any regional trial court of the judicial
region where the monetary instrument, property or proceeds representing,
involving or relating to an unlawful activity or to a money laundering offense are
located xxx”

In this case, RTC Manila, as one of the RTCs of the NCR Judicial Region was a
proper venue of the Republic’s complaint for civil forfeiture of Glasgow’s account
since the account sought to be forfeited was in Pasig City, which is likewise
situated within the NCR Judicial Region.

2. On issue of sufficiency of complaint: the complaint was sufficient in


form and in substance
Under Section 4 of the aforementioned Rules, “the petition for civil forfeiture shall
be verified and shall contain the following allegations: (a) the name and address of
the respondent; a description with reasonable particularity of the monetary
instrument, property xxx; and (c) the acts or omissions prohibited by the specific
provisions of the AMLA, which are alleged to be the grounds relied upon for the
forfeiture of the monetary instrument, property xxx.”

In this case, the verified complaint contained the name and address of Glasgow
(principal office at Unit 703, 7th floor, Citystate Center, No 709, Shaw Boulevard,
Pasig City); a description of the proceeds of Glasgow’s unlawful activities in the
amount of P21,301,430.28 maintained with CSBI; and the acts prohibited by RA
9160 (AMLA), particularly suspicious transaction reports showed that Glasgow
engaged in unlawful activities of estafa and violation of the Securities Regulation
Code, the proceeds were transacted and deposited with CSBI, thereby making them
appear to have originated from legit sources and the AMLC subjected the account
to a freeze order.

Pertinent provisions of RA 9160 also provide two conditions when applying for
civil forfeiture:
a. When there is a suspicious transaction report or a covered transaction
report deemed suspicious after investigation by the AMLC and
b. The court has, in a petition filed for the purpose, ordered the seizure of
any monetary instrument or property, in whole or in part, directly or
indirectly, related to said report.

The account of Glasgow in CSBI complies with the above conditions since it was
covered by several suspicious reports and it was placed under control of the trial
court upon issuance of the writ of preliminary injunctions.
Also, there need not be any prior charge, pendency or conviction necessary for the
commencement of a petition for civil forfeiture.

3. On issue of failure to prosecute: there was no failure to prosecute


The Republic continued to exert efforts to obtain information from government
agencies on the whereabouts of Glasgow (it must be recalled that Glasgow could
not be found on its last known office address during the course of the proceedings)
despite its earlier motions for summons and leave of court to serve summons by
publication. There could not have been any failure on the part of the Republic to
prosecute and the delay could not be entirely ascribed to the Republic. It must
likewise be recalled that despite efforts of the Republic to prosecute such case, no
prompt action was taken by the trial court (i.e. re: motion for leave of court to
serve summons by publication).

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES Petitioner Vs. JOSEPH EJERCITO


ESTRADA AND THE HONORABLE SPECIAL DIVISION OF THE
SANDIGANBAYAN , Respondents G.R. Nos . 164368-69 April 2, 2009

NATURE OF CASE:

The people of the philippines files this petition for review on certiorari to seek the
reversal of the sandiganbayan’s joint resolution dated July 12, 2004 granting
respondent Joseph Ejercito Estrada’s demurrer to evidence in Crim. Case No.
26565.

FACTS:

On April 4, 2001 an information for plunder was filed with the


Sandiganbayan against respondent Estrada, among other accused. Separate
information for illegal use of alias, was likewise filed against him. In the
information , it was alleged that on or about February 4, 2000, in the city of
Manila, then President Estrada without having been duly authorized, judicially or
administratively , taking advantage of his position and committing the offense in
relation to office i.e. in order to CONCEAL the ill-gotten wealth he acquired
during his tenure and his true identity as the president of the republic of the
Philippines, did then there, willfully , unlawfully and criminally represent himself
as Jose Velarde in several transaction and use and employ the said alias Jose
Vilarde which is neither his registered name at birth nor his baptismal name, in
signing documents with Equitable PCI Bank and or other corporate entities.

Estrada was subsequently arrested on the basis of a warrant of arrest that the
sandigan bayan issue, as special Division in the Sandiganbayan was made to try
hear and decide the charges of Plunder and related against respondent Estrada. At
the trial the people presented testimonial and documentary evidence to prove the
allegations of the informations for plunder illegal use of alias and perjury.

After the people rested in all three cases the defense moved to be allowed to
file a demurrer to evidence in these cases. In its joint resolution the Sandiganbayan
only granted the defense leave to file demurrers in illegal use of alias and perjury.
The Sandiganbayan ruled that the people failed to present evidence that proved
Estrada commission of the offense.

ISSUE OF THE CASE:

Whether the court a qou gravely erred and abused its discretion in dismissing
Crim. Case 26565, and in applying RA. No. 1405 as an exeption to the illegal use
of alias punishable under Commonwealth Act. 142 and in relation to RA 9160

HELD:

NO, the sandiganbayan position that the rule in the law of Libel-that mere
communication to a third person is publicity, - does not apply to violations of CA
No. 142. In order to held liable of CA No. 142 the user of the alias must have held
himself out as a person who shall be publicly be known under that other name. In
other words the intent to publicly use the alias must be manifest. The presence of
Lacquian and Chua when Estrada sign as Jose Velarde and open trust account
number C-163 does not necessarily indicate his intention to be publicly known
henceforth as Jose Velarde. Thus Estrada could not be said to have intended his
signing as Jose Velarde to be for public consumption by the fact alone that Laquian
and Chua were also inside the room at that time. The same holds true for Estrada’s
alleged representation with Ortaleza and Dichavez, assuming the evidence for
these representations to be admissible. All of Estrda’s representations to these
people were made in privacy and in secrecy, with no iota of intention of publicity.

Bank deposits under RA No. 1405 (the secrecy of bank deposits Law) are
statutorily protected or recognize zone of privacy. Given the private nature of
Estrada’s act of signing the documents as Jose Velarde related to the opening of the
trust account, the people cannot claim the there is already a public use of alias
when Ocampo and Curato witnessed the signing.

The enactment of RA 9160, is a significant development only because it


clearly manifest that prior to its enactment, numbered accounts or anonymous
accounts were permitted banking transactions., whether they be allowed by law or
by a mere banking regulation. To be sure, an indictment against Estrada using the
relatively recent law cannot be maintained without violating the constitutional
prohibition on the enactment of ex post facto law.

We hasten to add that this holistic application and interpretation of these


various laws is not an attempt to harmonize these laws. A finding of commission of
the offense punished under CA No. 142 must necessarily rest on the evidence of
the requisites for culpability, as amplified in Ursua. The application of R.A. No.
1405 is significant only because Estradas use of the alias was pursuant to a
transaction that the law considers private or, at the very least, where the law
guarantees a reasonable expectation of privacy to the parties to the transactions; it
is at this point that R.A. No. 1405 tangentially interfaces with an indictment under
CA 142. In this light, there is no actual frontal clash between CA No. 142 and R.A.
No. 1405 that requires harmonization. Each operates within its own sphere, but
must necessarily be read together when these spheres interface with one
another. Finally, R.A. No. 9160, as a law of recent vintage in relation to the
indictment against Estrada, cannot be a source or an influencing factor in his
indictment.

In finding the absence of the requisite publicity, we simply looked at the


totality of the circumstances obtaining in Estradas use of the alias Jose
Velarde vis--vis the Ursua requisites. We do not decide here whether Estradas use
of an alias when he occupied the highest executive position in the land was valid
and legal; we simply determined, as the Sandiganbayan did, whether he may be
made liable for the offense charged based on the evidence the People presented. As
with any other accused, his guilt must be based on the evidence and proof beyond
reasonable doubt that a finding of criminal liability requires. If the People fails to
discharge this burden, as they did fail in this case, the rule of law requires that we
so declare. We do so now in this review and accordingly find no reversible error of
law in the assailed Sandiganbayan ruling.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we DENY the petition for lack of


merit.

Petition was denied.

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. CABRINI GREEN & ROSS, INC.


G.R. No. 154522 May 5, 2006

FACTS:

The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) issued freeze orders against


various bank accounts of respondents. The frozen bank accounts were previously
found prima facie to be related to the unlawful activities of respondents. Before the
lapse of the period of effectivity of its freeze orders, the AMLC filed with the
Court of Appeals (CA) various petitions for extension of effectivity of its freeze
orders under the belief that the CA carried with it such power.

However, the CA disagreed with the AMLC and dismissed the petitions. It
uniformly ruled that it was not vested by RA 9160 with the power to extend a
freeze order issued by the AMLC.

ISSUE:
WON the CA has jurisdiction to extend the effectivity of a freeze order.

HELD:

During the pendency of the petition, Congress enacted RA 9194, An Act


Amending Republic Act No. 9160. It amended Section 10 of RA 9160 as follows:

SEC. 7. Section 10 of RA 9160 is hereby amended to read as follows:

SEC. 10. Freezing of Monetary Instrument or Property. –


The Court of Appeals, upon application ex parte by the
AMLC and after determination that probable cause exists
that any monetary instrument or property is in any way
related to an unlawful activity as defined in Sec. 3(i)
hereof, may issue a freeze order which shall be effective
immediately. The freeze order shall be for a period of
twenty (20) days unless extended by the court.

The amendment erased any doubt on the jurisdiction of the CA over the
extension of freeze orders. As the law now stands, it is solely the CA which has the
authority to issue a freeze order as well as to extend its effectivity. It also has the
exclusive jurisdiction to extend existing freeze orders previously issued by the
AMLC vis-à-vis accounts and deposits related to money-laundering activities.

WHEREFORE, the case is hereby dismissed for being moot.

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES vs.. HON. ANTONIO M. EUGENIO,


JR., PANTALEON ALVAREZAND LILIA CHENG. G.R. No. 174629
February 14, 2008

FACTS:

Under the authority granted by the Resolution, the AMLC filed an


application to inquire into or examine the deposits or investments of Alvarez,
Trinidad, Liongson and Cheng Yong before the RTC of Makati, Branch 138,
presided by Judge Sixto Marella, Jr. The Makati RTC heard the testimony of the
Deputy Director of the AMLC, Richard David C. Funk II, and received the
documentary evidence of the AMLC. Thereafter, on July 4, 2005, the Makati RTC
rendered an Order granting the AMLC the authority to inquire and examine the
subject bank accounts of Alvarez, Trinidad, Liongson and Cheng Yong, the trial
court being satisfied that there existed probable cause to believe that the deposits in
various bank accounts are related to the offense of violation of Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act. Pursuant to the Makati RTC bank inquiry order, the CIS
proceeded to inquire and examine the deposits, investments and related web
accounts of the four.

Meanwhile, the Special Prosecutor of the Office of the Ombudsman, Dennis


Villa-Ignacio, wrote a letter dated November 2, 2005, requesting the AMLC to
investigate the accounts of Alvarez, PIATCO, and several other entities involved in
the nullified contract. The letter adverted to probable cause to believe that the bank
accounts were used in the commission of unlawful activities that were committed
in relation to the criminal cases then pending before the Sandiganbayan. Attached
to the letter was a memorandum on why the investigation of the accounts is
necessary in the prosecution of the above criminal cases before the Sandiganbayan.
In response to the letter of the Special Prosecutor, the AMLC promulgated on
December 9, 2005 Resolution No. 121 Series of 2005, which authorized the
executive director of the AMLC to inquire into and examine the accounts named in
the letter, including one maintained by Alvarez with DBS Bank and two other
accounts in the name of Cheng Yong with Metrobank. The Resolution
characterized the memorandum attached to the Special Prosecutors letter as
extensively justifying the existence of probable cause that the bank accounts of the
persons and entities mentioned in the letter are related to the unlawful activity of
violation of Sections 3(g) and 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019, as amended.

ISSUE:

WON the bank accounts of respondents can be examined.

HELD:

Any exception to the rule of absolute confidentiality must be specifically


legislated. Section 2 of the Bank Secrecy Act itself prescribes exceptions whereby
these bank accounts may be examined by any person, government official, bureau
or office; namely when:

(1) Upon written permission of the depositor;

(2) In cases of impeachment;

(3) The examination of bank accounts is upon order of a competent court in


cases of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials; and

(4) The money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation.
Section 8 of R.A. Act No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,
has been recognized by this Court as constituting an additional exception to
the rule of absolute confidentiality, and there have been other similar
recognitions as well.

The AMLA also provides exceptions to the Bank Secrecy Act. Under
Section 11, the AMLC may inquire into a bank account upon order of any
competent court in cases of violation of the AMLA,it having been established that
there is probable cause that the deposits or investments are related to unlawful
activities or a money laundering offense. It cannot be successfully argued the
proceedings relating to the bank inquiry order under Section 11 of the AMLA is a
litigation encompassed in one of the exceptions to the Bank Secrecy Act which is
when money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation. The
orientation of the bank inquiry order is simply to serve as a provisional relief or
remedy. As earlier stated, the application for such does not entail a full-blown trial.
Nevertheless, just because the AMLA establishes additional exceptions to the Bank
Secrecy Act it does not mean that the later law has dispensed with the general
principle established in the older law that all deposits of whatever nature with
banks or banking institutions in the Philippines are hereby considered as of an
absolutely confidential nature. Indeed, by force of statute, all bank deposits are
absolutely confidential, and that nature is unaltered even by the legislated
exceptions referred to above.

WHEREFORE the petition is dismissed.