Supreme Court: Marcos kids must face wealth caseBy Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Supreme Court has affirmed with finality its February ruling reinstating the children of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos as defendants in the government’s P200-billion ill-gotten wealth case against the Marcos family.
The court’s Second Division, however, affirmed the dropping from the charge sheet of businessman Gregorio “Greggy” Ma. Araneta III, husband of Marcos’ youngest daughter, Irene Marcos.
In a one-page ruling issued through deputy clerk of court Teresita Aquino Tuazon, the division said that all issues had been duly considered by the justices and that the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) did not raise “substantial arguments,” adding: “No further pleadings or motions shall be entertained in this case. Let entry of final judgment be made in due course.”
With the finality of the decision, the civil suit against the Marcos children—Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos-Manotoc, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Irene Marcos-Araneta—and their mother, Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos, may proceed in the Sandiganbayan.
The case involves P200 billion of supposed ill-gotten Marcos wealth and covers the alleged use of the sequestered media networks IBC-13, BBC-2 and RPN-9 for the Marcos family’s personal benefit; the alleged use of the Del Soleil Apparel company for dollar salting, and the alleged illegal acquisition and operation of bus company Pantranco North Express Inc. (Pantranco).
Araneta and his wife were accused of conspiring to help President Marcos illegally acquire Pantranco.
The Sandiganbayan, in December 2005, originally ordered the case against Mrs. Marcos to proceed but dropped the cases against her children and Araneta by granting their “demurrer to evidence,” a type of motion to dismiss that a defendant may avail of by claiming that the evidence presented by the prosecution, after it rested its case, was insufficient.
The case was brought to the Supreme Court which, on February 8 this year, ruled that the three Marcos children, being the late President’s compulsory heirs, should be defendants in the case for reversion, reconveyance, restitution, accounting and damages filed against their father.
The court, however, only affirmed the dropping of the charges against Araneta.
The February ruling, penned by Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, also suggested that President Aquino, the Solicitor General and the PCGG investigate the prosecutors assigned to the case.
The court lamented that government prosecutors disregarded procedural rules and failed to present available crucial evidence before the Sandiganbayan, which would have proven the guilt or innocence of the Marcos children as alleged coconspirators in the accumulation of ill-gotten wealth during the tenures of their parents.
The tribunal noted that the prosecutors failed to secure the originals of the documents on which they were supposed to base their case.
However, although the prosecutors failed to prove that the Marcos children had connived with their parents in accumulating ill-gotten wealth, the high court held that the siblings should remain as defendants.
“Thus, while it was not proven that respondents conspired to accumulate ill-gotten wealth, they may be in possession, ownership or control of such ill-gotten properties or the proceeds thereof as heirs of the Marcos couple,” the court said.