THE Office of the Ombudsman directed the filing of a petition to initiate penalty proceedings against the unexplained estate of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his spouse Bai Laila Ampatuan from 2002 to 2007 amounting to almost P55 million.

After conducting a lifestyle check investigation, the Ombudsman investigators found that the wealth of Ampatuan Sr. is out of proportion to his salary as former governor of Maguindanao and to their other lawful income and income legitimately acquired properties.

READ: P55-M illegal wealth found; forfeiture case ordered vs Ampatuan estate

Based on a report issued by the Ombudsman dated January 26 this year, Ampatuan Sr. has acquired P54,965,526.88 total of unexplained wealth from 2002 to 2007.

The accused has assimilated P6,057,896.91 in 2002, P2,157,596.33 in 2003, P2,011,672.08 in 200500, P612,829.22 in 2006, and P44,125,532.34 in 2007.

As reported, the former governor's income last 2002 was only P310,773.09, P1,196,403.67 in 2003, P1,560,327.92 in 2005, P1,560,170.78 in 2006 and P1,608,120.76 in 2007, and yet his total expenditures per year exceeded more than from what he has earned.

The total expenditures (real property, vehicles and firearms) of the former governor reached to P6,368,670 last 2002, P3,354,000 in 2003, P3,572,000 in 2005, P2,173,000 in 2006, and P18,505,250 in 2007.

Ampatuan Sr. challenged the Ombudsman findings and reiterated that the properties he allegedly owns were either registered to other individuals.

Ampatuan Sr. had also claimed that he inherited several properties from his father, who "was an affluent man" and that the firearms "were given by friends, relatives and political allies through the years without monetary consideration."

In a joint resolution approved on December 23, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said that under the Section 2 of the Republic Act 1379, whenever any public officer or employee has acquired during his incumbency an amount of property which is manifestly out of proportion to his salary as such public officer and to his other lawful income and the income from legitimately acquired property, the property shall be presumed prima facie to have been unlawfully acquired.

Morales junked the defenses of the Ampatuan and ruled that "there is clear and convincing evidence that Ampatuan Sr. accumulated wealth manifestly disproportionate to his lawful and legitimate income for 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007."

She also said that Ampatuan and his family failed to lead modest lives appropriate to their positions and income due to their extravagant and grandiose display of wealth.

Ampatuan's death does not operate to extinguish his liabilities under the law and the government is not precluded from recovering his unexplained wealth.

Details of the lifestyle check showed that based on Ampatuan's income tax returns from 2001 to 2008, his net income in 2001 is P304,721.91, P310,773.09 in 2002, P1,196,403.67 in 2003, P1,423,443.94 in 2004, P1,560,327.92 in 2005, P1,560,170.78 in 2006, P1,608,120.76 in 2007, and P1,631,128.06 in 2008.

Based on Ampatuan's Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net (SALN) worth from 2000 to 2007, he had P6,221,950 in 2000, P10,829,297.17 in 2001, P26,248,726.50 in 2002, P25,748,726.50 in 2003, P26,136,622.33 in 2004, P24,538,818.16 in 2005, P25,081,238 in 2006, and P26,705,250 in 2007.

The criminal charges for perjury, falsification of public documents, violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the same were dismissed on account of Ampatuan Sr.'s death last July 17, 2005.

Morales said a petition for forfeiture may still be filed against Ampatuan's estate, citing RA 1379, "An Act Declaring Forfeiture in favor of the State any Property found to have been unlawfully acquired by any public official or employee and providing for the proceedings therefore."