PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Debold M. Sinas yesterday said he and Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) officials will serve today a ‘freeze order’ issued by the court against a big resort owned by a known drug lord in Central Visayas.
The multimillion-peso resort located in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental has been found to be connected to a top member of the notorious Eagle Drug Group operating in Region 7 which is the target of ongoing anti-narcotics and money-forfeiture proceedings by the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency with the support of the AMLC and the Department of Justice.
“We will freeze that property para hindi na ma-ibenta,” the top cop told the Journal Group.
Sinas said the AMLC is fully helping them in their efforts to identify and recover ill-gotten wealth of drug personalities in the country, and if possible, utilize them properly.
He added that motor vehicles recovered during anti-narcotics operations remain part of court evidence and could not be utilized by the police unless the court authorizes them to do so.
Sinas explained they are talking with the AMLC and are making moves that will allow them to use seized ‘hard assets’ or properties of drug lords and other captured drug personalities as ‘safehouses’ for future anti-criminality operations.
The PNP chief admitted that there were several cases in the past that resorts or big houses of arrested drug lords merely deteriorated after years of neglect.
He cited the house of a known female drug personality in Region 7, one Josephine Encilla which deteriorated, its doors and windows and part of roofing destroyed after years of being abandoned following an anti-narcotics operation.
“Puro basura na ang bahay, sira-sira mga pintuan, Ang gusto namin eh wag naman matirhan ng mga squatters, huwag mabenta,” Sinas said.
According to the PNP chief, the AMLC is amenable to their proposal that seized houses of drug personalities be turned into ‘safehouses’ by the police following orders from the court.
Sinas said they are targeting more ill-gotten properties of known drug lords in Central Visayas and Mindanao. Last week, he 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 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, Barangay, Cubacub, Mandaue City was the scene of a drug buy-bust 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.
“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 shows that the government is serious in this fightto ,” Gen. 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, the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group, he PNP Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group, the PNP Intelligence and the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.