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CA affirms dismissal of ex-ARMM governor

By: Rey G. Panaligan

The Court of Appeals has affirmed the dismissal of former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan who was found with unexplained wealth and undeclared assets of more than P70 million from 2000 to 2009.

In a decision, the CA affirmed the June 26, 2015 and September 2015 rulings of the Ombudsman which found Ampatuan, one of the accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, guilty of serious dishonesty and grave misconduct.

The decision, written by Associate Justice Henri Jean Paul Inting and concurred in by Associate Justices Ramon Garcia and Leoncia Dimagiba, denied Ampatuan’s petition.

Ampatuan served as assemblyman of the ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly prior to 1998 when he was elected mayor of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao for three terms until 2007.

But he did not finish his term as mayor after he ran and won as ARMM regional governor in 2005 and re-elected in 2008.

From 2000, Ampatuan declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth a net worth of P6.99 million without liabilities. But in 2009, his net worth increased to P19.29 million with total assets of P36.49 million and total liabilities of P17.2 million.

He declared that his only business interest was the Maguindanao Pawnshop.

But the Ombudsman found out that Ampatuan owned at least 38 houses and lots in Shariff Aguak, Cotabato City, Davao City, and Metro Manila worth P58.48 million which were not declared in his SALNs.

It was also found that he and his wife owned 24 vehicles valued at more than P46 million. The investigation showed that he has 26 firearms and went out of the country 16 times in a span of five years.

The Ombudsman concluded that Ampatuan has unexplained wealth and undeclared assets of more than P70.6 million from 2000 to 2009 and ordered his dismissal from the service in 2015.