Sabalones given 15 days to answer asset forfeiture petition

COURT personnel on Monday, August 14, served to the San Fernando Municipal Assessor's Office and self-confessed drug lord Franz Sabalones an order instructing them to answer the petition seeking the forfeiture of the latter's assets.

The civil petition asking the court to forfeit Sabalones's assets amounting P350 million was filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council through the Office of the Solicitor General last August 10.

Also named respondents were the drug lord's relative Luna Sabalones, the Land Registration Authority, Cebu Provincial Register of Deeds, Cebu City Register of Deeds, Banco de Oro, Unibank, Wealth Development Bank and First Standard Finance Corp.

Judge Gilbert Moises of the Regional Trial Court Branch 18 in Cebu City had given the respondents 15 days to answer the petition.

Sabalones, though, was not around when the court order was served around 12 p.m. Monday. It was his brother, Frank, who received the document at the Paulo Luna Beach Resort and Spa in North Poblacion, San Fernando, Cebu.

Frank said he took over the operation of the beach resort in February last year, and admitted that they are losing money since his brother was linked into the illegal drug trade.

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

Personnel from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Central Visayas and San Fernando Police Station escorted the RTC sheriff in serving the order Monday.

PDEA 7 Regional Director Yogi Ruiz said that Sabalones’s assets are not the only ones they are after.

They will also seek to forfeit the assets of Cebu’s biggest alleged drug lord, Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz, who was slain by police operativs in Las Piñas City last June 17, 2016. “We are working on that,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz said that a PAPO will keep the respondents from touching the properties or bank accounts involved.

“The selling of these properties will not be allowed because it will already be a subject of forfeiture, it’ll be the property of the government. This is what we are doing right now so that we can seize the proceeds of illegal activities,” Ruiz said.

He said that PDEA 7, with the help of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLAC), found basis to conclude that the millions worth of assets of Sabalones were indeed acquired through illegal means.

“We will make the lives of these drug personalities here in the Philippines harder and miserable,” he said.

The PDEA 7 said it is trying to cripple all sides of the illegal drug trade by reducing demand in the barangays, reducing supply by going after high-value targets and preservation of assets of suspected drug lords. (SunStar Philippines/With reports from JOB)

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