Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima hailed the decision rendered by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC-RTC) sentencing a woman, who was previously convicted of kidnap-for-ransom, for violation of Republic Act No. 9160, otherwise known as Anti-Money Laundering Act Of 2001, as amended, and commended Senior Assistant State Prosecutor (SASP) Merba A. Waga for successfully securing the court's conviction.
QC-RTC Branch 93 Presiding Judge Arthur O. Malabaguio found the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt, and meted out the penalty of eight (8) years imprisonment and payment of a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) to Acuatin for violation of Sec. 4 par. (a) of RA 9160, in relation to Sec. 3 par (i) sub-par. (1) of the same Act.
The case stemmed from the filing of Information on 26 November 2007 by then Assistant City Prosecutor (ACP) Merba Waga against Acuatin and Joseph Randy Mendoza for violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, which was an offshoot of the kidnap-for-ransom case of a 15-year-old minor.
Records showed that, on or about 23 July 2002, and dates subsequent thereto, accused Acuatin and Mendoza, knowing that the amount of P250,000.00 involves or relates to a portion of the proceeds of an unlawful activity, i.e., the kidnapping of the minor, transacted the amount, whereby Acuatin, upon the instruction of Mendoza, deposited the said amount to her ATM account with the Philippine National Bank, making it appear that the same originated from legitimate sources, to the damage and prejudice of the victim and her family.
During the pendency of the Anti-Money Laundering case, accused Acuatin and Mendoza were convicted in the kidnap-for- ransom case, and were committed to the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City and the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, respectively, both to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua.
On 05 November 2013, a Public Attorney's Office (PAO) lawyer manifested Acuatin's willingness to enter a guilty plea to the offense of Money Laundering and, on 05 December 2013, Acuatin voluntarily entered a plea of guilty.
"This demonstrates our firm resolve to render justice to all," the Secretary said.