CA freezes assets of alleged Central Visayas ‘drug lord’

By on March 8, 2017


The Court of Appeals has issued a freeze order on the bank accounts and assets of suspected Central Visayas drug lord Franz Sabalones. (Photo by Ramon FVelasquez (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0)
The Court of Appeals has issued a freeze order on the bank accounts and assets of suspected Central Visayas drug lord Franz Sabalones. (Photo by Ramon FVelasquez (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0)
MANILA—The Court of Appeals has issued a freeze order on the bank accounts and assets of suspected Central Visayas drug lord Franz Sabalones.

In a 18-page freeze order dated Jan. 19, 2017, signed by Associate Justice Carmelita Salandanan Manahan and was concurred by Associate Justices Japar Dimaampao and Franchito Diamante, the CA’s Eighth Division, said that freeze order covers Sabalones’ accounts from Banco De Oro and Wealth Bank and his various properties in Cebu.

The freeze order has a duration of six months.

It was the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-Central Visayas that requested for its issuance through the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

The CA stated that the court found probable cause that the subject bank accounts and properties are “related to an unlawful activity or money laundering as defined under Republic Act 9160,” or the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) of 2001.

Section 4 of the AMLA states that “money laundering is a crime whereby the proceeds of an unlawful activity as defined in the law are transacted, thereby making them appear to have originated from legitimate sources.”

“After a careful examination of the allegations stated in the application, as well as the supporting documents attached herein, the Court is convinced that there is indeed a reasonable ground to believe that the bank accounts and real properties are related or have connection to the unlawful activity and/or money laundering offense.”

“Thus, probable cause exists that the questioned bank accounts and real properties are being used in the laundering of the proceeds of the lawful activity which justify the issuance of the Freeze Order authorizing the AMLC (Anti-Money Laundering Council) to preserve the monetary instruments or property in any way deemed related to unlawful activities,” the appeals court said.

Investigation by the AMLC also showed that he has as much as PHP70-million withdrawals in his bank accounts.

The investigation also showed that from April 19, 2011 to Sep. 11, 2012, he made bank deposits ranging from PHP519.3 million to PHP8-million.

Through Sabalones drug transactions, he was able to acquire the following properties which are covered by the freeze order: 3,204 square meter property in Barrio Balud, San Fernando, Cebu; 7,137 sq. m. property in Tabionan, San Fernando, Cebu; 21,387 sq. m. property also in Tabionan; 34,379 sq.m. property in Brgy. Pob. III Carcar City, Cebu; 64,998 sq.m. property in Brgy. Guadalupe, Cebu City, Cebu, and; 24,872 sq.m. property in Bo Tabionan in San Fernando, Cebu.

The appeals court required the AMLC to submit a supplemental return of the freeze order immediately following its implementation.

Sabalones, brother of San Fernando, Cebu Vice Mayor Fralz Sabalones voluntary surrendered to Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa on Aug. 7, 2016 after he was identified by President Rodrigo Duterte as among those involved in the illegal drug trade.

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

He admitted that he assumed control of the drug trade in Cebu after top drug lord Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz was killed in Las Piñas.

In his judicial affidavit, he said mentioned a certain Willy Yang and Roy Velez, both inmates at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) as his source of drugs.