Sandigan affirms ruling vs ex-vice mayor’s assets

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    FORMER Manila vice mayor Danilo Lacuna and his wife, Melanie, failed to persuade the Sandiganbayan to reverse its July 7, 2020 decision declaring they amassed unexplained wealth worth P9.004 million while in government service.

    The court denied the couple’s motion for reconsideration, noting they merely made substantive reiterations of their earlier arguments without raising any new issues of facts or law.

    Associate Justice Bernelito R. Fernandez penned the ruling with Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Sarah Jane T. Fernandez concurring.

    The Lacunas challenged the court’s findings that the assets were unlawfully acquired based on the former vice mayor’s Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, records of investments, and summary of their foreign travels.

    They argued that if ill-gotten wealth cases against the Marcos family were dismissed “despite amassing wealth beyond their means,” they should enjoy the same treatment.

    The former vice mayor added that his SALN did not reflect the properties of his wife because she does not work with government.

    Lacuna served as vice mayor of Manila from 1988 to 1992 and for two more terms in 1998 until 2004 while his wife is a former officer of the Philippine National Bank.

    However, the Sandiganbayan stood firm on its pronouncement that the legitimate income of the Lacunas only amounted to P11.703 million, which was disproportionate to their assets amounting to P20.707 million acquired from 1998 to 2004. Because of this, the difference of P9,003,879.42 was declared as ill-gotten wealth.

    At the same time, it reminded the defendants that Sandiganbayan rulings in the Marcos cases are not binding precedents.