'Franz Sabalones stands to lose his wealth if he fails to appear, explain in court'

'Sabalones stands to lose his wealth if he fails to appear, explain in court'

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'Sabalones stands to lose his wealth if he fails to appear, explain in court'

Thursday, March 09, 2017

SUSPECTED Central Visayas drug lord Franz Sabalones may lose all his assets, including cash amounting to about P76 million to the government if he won’t surface and explain how he accumulated his wealth.

If Sabalones will continue hiding following the freeze order issued by the Court of Appeals, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-Central Visayas may file forfeiture proceedings before the appeals court, after the six-month validity.

“The PDEA will just show evidence such as affidavits and other supporting documents to prove that the respondent laundered his assets,” retired Regional Trial Court judge Meinrado Paredes told Sun.Star Cebu in a phone interview.

In its order dated Jan. 19, the appeals court’s 8th Division ordered Sabalones’ assets and cash held for at least six months.

The freeze order came after the PDEA-7 petitioned to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to put on hold the alleged drug lord’s assets on suspicion that he laundered the wealth.

Sabalones, brother of San Fernando, Cebu Vice Mayor Fralz Sabalones, surrendered to Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa last year after President Rodrigo Duterte tagged the politician as a drug protector.

Sabalones confessed that he is a drug lord operating in Central Visayas and tagged several policemen as his protectors.

Sabalones owns several properties, including six lands, in Cebu province.

He owns the Paulo Luna Beach Resort and Spa located in Sitio Kalubihan, North Poblaion, San Fernando, Cebu. Ordered froze were Sabalones’ three bank accounts (one BDO and two Wealth Bank accounts) and six real properties. Four of the properties are in San Fernando town, Cebu; one in Barangay Guadalupe Cebu City; and one in Barangay Poblacion III in Carcar City.

The CA resolution stated that the court found probable cause that the subject bank accounts and properties are “related to an unlawful activity or money laundering as defined under Republic Act 9160,” or the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) of 2001.

Paredes said Sabalones may also file a petition to lift the freeze order.

But he has to convince the CA that he acquired his assets lawfully.

If he fails to appear in court, Paredes said PDEA-7 may file forfeiture proceedings. 

After that, the CA will conduct a summary hearing, pursuant to the rules prescribed by the Supreme Court.

Also Sabalones’s counsel needs to convince his client to appear and face the proceedings in court. Otherwise, the lawyer may be held liable for obstruction of justice, Paredes added.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 09, 2017.

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