(AFP) – Nov 5, 2007
MANILA (AFP) — Former Philippines president Joseph Estrada on Tuesday blocked court moves to seize his assets 13 days after he was pardoned for corruption and released from detention.
"These properties are mine. I acquired them way back when I was still a movie actor," Estrada scolded a court sherrif who tried to serve a seizure order on him at his Manila home.
"I worked hard for it. I did not steal these from the government and is it my fault that I know how to invest?," he told the sherrif in an exchange aired on radio.
"What is rightfully mine, you will never be able to get."
Estrada was freed on October 26 after more than six years in detention and to the delight of his euphoric supporters, a day after being granted a presidential pardon.
However the Sandiganbayan graft court, set up in 2001 to hear the case against Estrada, on Monday said the pardon did not cover the forfeiture of his assets.
It ordered sheriff Ed Urietta to seize over 700 million pesos (16 million dollars) in funds deposited under two accounts that the court said were owned by Estrada and was money amassed from an illegal numbers game called jueteng.
A mansion in suburban Manila that Estrada allegedly built for one of his mistresses was also ordered seized.
Estrada has repeatedly denied that he owned the funds and the mansion, and said that the government was welcome to take them.
Prosecutors earlier found that the funds have dwindled over the past six years while the court case was being heard.
"I am being ordered to satisfy the writ," Urietta said, adding that he has to make a report to the court within 30 days.
He said should Estrada fail to present the funds, he would be forced to take other assets "until I can return to the government the entire amount in the order."
Estrada was ousted in a military-backed popular revolt in 2001. He was convicted of massive corruption in September and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
He had initially appealed the decision, stressing his innocence but subsequently accepted a pardon and a reconciliation offer from Arroyo.
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