A court sheriff, accompanied by agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7), served another court order against self-confessed drug lord Franz Sabalones, on Monday.
The order issued by Cebu RTC Judge Gilbert Moises permanently puts on hold Sabalones’ multi-million peso financial assets until civil proceedings for the forfeiture of all his properties and finances are resolved.
The court’s Assets Preservation Order (APO) was delivered to the San Fernando Municipal Assessor’s Office by PDEA agents and representatives of RTC Branch 18 before noon yesterday as most of Sabalones’ properties are believed to be located in his hometown, San Fernando.
A copy of the order was also given to Sabalones, through his uncle, Neal, after the group proceeded to Paulo Luna Resort and Spa, one of Sabalones’ identified properties in San Fernando town to serve the order. They were escorted by members of the Philippine National Police.
Franz, according to his uncle, has not been in the resort since four or five months ago.
The APO was issued by Judge Moises after a Provisional Assets Preservation Order (PAPO) issued by him last August 11 expired August 30-31 or 20 days after.
“Respondent Sabalones has not submitted any pleading to contest the propriety of the issuance of the PAPO. Moreover, Atty. Louisito Arma, who entered his appearance for respondent Sabalones admitted that he did not file any pleading because he does not find any need thereto considering that the properties subject of the PAPO are no longer owned by the respondent Franz Sabalones,” Moises’ order read.
“Petitioner, on the other hand, maintains that the titles to the properties subject of the PAPO are still in the name of the respondent Sabalones and that it is for the respondent to prove otherwise,” Moises added.
After receiving the court order on Sabalones’ behalf, his uncle Neal insisted that the resort was not part of Sabalone’s properties.
“The power of attorney was given to me by Luna who is my sister and the real owner of Paulo Luna, she was currently not in the country for she was hospitalized in Italy,” Neal told reporters yesterday when the APO was served.
“I know that there is an issue between the permit, that’s why my sister sent me here to settle the problem and I will talk to the mayor about what is the necessary process to have it,” Neal added.
Despite the absence of a business permit since January this year, the resort remains open with a staff of around 30 employees.
For her part, San Fernando Mayor Lakambini Reluya maintained that she will continue to refuse to issue a business permit for the operations of Paulo Luna until its case with PDEA-7 is settled.
An investigation conducted by PDEA-7 places Franz Sabalones’ assets at approximately P350 million including the posh resort in San Fernando town, bank accounts and other real estate properties.
With the APO now in effect, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) will be tasked to prevent the sale, disposition, or transfer of any of Sabalones’ financial assets and properties.
PDEA-7 spokesperson, Leia Albair said they are grateful for the court’s order.