MORE ill-gotten properties of known drug lords in Central Visayas have been seized by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in line with their stepped up partnership with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to cripple the suspects’ future activities, the Journal Group was told yesterday.
Last Friday, PNP chief, General Debold M. Sinas and AMLC Executive Director Mel Georgie Racela led officials in serving a ‘freeze order’ on real estate properties and financial accounts of a jailed suspected drug lord in Central Visayas.
The freeze order was issued by the Court of Appeals (CA) on the real properties and bank accounts of Charlie Duhaylungsod Fortuna who has been described as a ‘high-value individual’ in the region.
According to Sinas, two real estate properties owned by Fortuna as well as 10 bank accounts, identified by AMLC as related to the drug trafficking activities of the suspect were ordered frozen in favor of the government by the CA under CA-G.R. AMLA No. 00248.
The PNP chief said that one of the real estate properties located at Lot 2 Block 2, Vlencia St., Vista Montana Subdivision in Purok 6, Bgy. Cubacub, Mandaue City was the scene of a drug buy-bust operation on February 9, 2019 where police operatives arrested Fortuna.
Recovered from the suspect by the police during the 2019 sting were seven kilograms of shabu worth P47.7 million. The PNP chief said that the other real estate property ordered frozen by the CA is located in Ozamis City.
The Mandaue property, Sinas explained is covered by TCT No. 111-2017002970 acquired by Fortuna’s aunt Juby Duhaylungsod. However, investigation disclosed that the property is actually owned by Fortuna himself.
Aside from the illegal drugs, operatives also discovered financial documents, consisting of deposit slips, post-dated checks, and remittance slips further bolstering suspicion that Fortuna was using the country’s financial system to launder proceeds from the sale of illegal drugs.
Last week, PDEA chair, Director General Wilkins M. Villanueva, the AMLC and the local police likewise seized a P5 million house owned by a couple connected to the Kuratong Baleleng Group. The move was based on a freeze order issued by the CA on a house owned by spouses Artemio and Daisy Salas who currently have a warrant of arrest for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Villanueva and his men served the CA order inside a high-end subdivision in Bgy. Guadalupe.
“Why are we doing this? The number one goal of drug syndicates is to earn money. We are just completing our job. By freezing their properties, these drug personalities will no longer be able to use their assets earned from illegal drug transactions to further run their operations … Gisahon nato sila sa ilang sariling mantika,” Villanueva said.
Aside from the two-story house in Cebu City estimated to be worth around P5 million, the Salas couple is said to have other properties in Ozamis City and Maasin, Southern Leyte. They also have numerous bank accounts with notable bank transactions that are not commensurate to their declared source of income. The bank accounts are now also frozen.
“Our next move is to file for the forfeiture of their properties in favor of the government so that the government can use the proceeds in the implementation of its anti-illegal drugs campaign or rehabilitation and reintegration program,” Villanueva said.
“The combined efforts of the PNP and AMLC in running after the ill-secured assets of arrested drug lords, terrorists, smugglers, and other organized criminal groups and individuals clearly show that the government is serious in this fight,” Sinas said as he expressed appreciation to AMLC for building a stronger partnership with the PNP in pinning down high profile criminals in the country.
The PNP and AMLC recently forged a Memorandum of Agreement to further strengthen government capacity against money laundering. A liaison center was also put up at the PNP Drug Enforcement Group in Camp Crame headed by Brigadier Gen. Ronald O. Lee to facilitate better coordination with the AMLC.
The PNP-AMLC Fusion Center located at the headquarters of the PNP-DEG will serve as a liaison office for information exchange between the AMLC and the PNP-DEG, PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group, PNP Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group, PNP Intelligence and the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.