Sandigan junks bid to forfeit ex-DPWH exec’s properties
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - January 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has junked the bid of the Office of the Ombudsman to forfeit the alleged ill-gotten properties of former Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Central Luzon director Romeo Panganiban.

In a 37-page decision promulgated on Jan. 14, the anti-graft court’s second division denied the motion of the ombudsman to forfeit a four-story commercial building and lot worth P2 million under Panganiban’s name in Sta. Cruz, Laguna as well as a three-bedroom house and lot valued at P12.54 million in Pasadena, California under the name of Panganiban’s wife Fe and daughter Geraldine.

The court said the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence to prove that the real properties were ill-gotten.

The court said Panganiban managed to establish that he acquired the Sta. Cruz property for only P200,000 in June 1994 and that its value increased due to the improvements that he introduced. 

Records show that Panganiban used the P250,000-jackpot that he won in the sweepstakes draw on May 23, 1982 to purchase the property, the second division said.

 “After a careful examination of the testimonial and documentary evidence... there is nothing that would show how Fe and Geraldine Panganiban acquired the California property through illegal use of government funds,” the court ruling read.

 On the alleged excessive foreign trips of the Panganiban couple, the court said the ombudsman provided only the destinations as well as departure and arrival dates.

“It is well-settled in jurisprudence that in civil cases, the party making allegations has the burden of proving them by a preponderance of evidence,” it said.

In the same ruling, the second division forfeited the Panganiban couple’s P1.28-million house and lot in Los Baños, Laguna.

The court said Panganiban did not declare the property in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth in 1994. It found no merit in Panganiban’s defense that he used the P1.5-million loan he obtained from a rural bank to purchase the property when he mortgaged his Sta. Cruz assets. 

The forfeiture case was filed in 2004 after investigation showed that the P455,000- net worth of the Panganibans in 1986 ballooned to P13.2 million in 2001.

         

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