Sandigan drops Enrile from ‘behest loans’ case
The Sandiganbayan has affirmed its 12-year-old decision to exclude former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile from the multibillion-peso forfeiture suit filed by the government to recover alleged “behest loans” obtained by businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. under dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
In a six-page resolution, the court’s Second Division denied the appeal by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to reverse its 2004 decision in Civil Case No. 0033-H to get back more than P670 million in loans from the government that were acquired by Cojuangco 36 years ago allegedly under special terms.
The court dropped Enrile from the case because the government failed to explain his role in Cojuangco’s alleged acquisition of ill-gotten wealth from state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and the Philippine Tourism Authority (now Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority).
The complaint did not state any specific accusation against the former senator and only broadly alleged that he took part in the conspiracy to plunder state funds and property, the court said.
The court faulted the PCGG, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, for merely insisting that the accusations in general apply to Enrile as an alleged conspirator.
Unlike in criminal cases, the Rules of Civil Procedure require that every pleading contains a “concise and direct statement of the ultimate facts,” according to the resolution penned by Associate Justice Michael Frederick L. Musngi. Associate Justices Oscar C. Herrera Jr. and Zaldy V. Trespeses concurred.
The court said the PCGG “failed to include factual averments to demonstrate the participation of defendant Enrile in the acquisition of ill-gotten wealth.”
As defense minister, Enrile was Marcos’ martial law administrator and was known to have been close to Cojuangco.
The case against Enrile was one of the eight offshoots of Civil Case No. 0033, which seeks to recover some of the alleged ill-gotten wealth of Cojuangco, a former Tarlac governor, congressman and ambassador at large and once dubbed the “Coconut King.”
Civil Case No. 0033-H, the most recent version of which was dated Feb. 27, 1995, specifically seeks the recovery of the following:
P603.34 million in loans and credit privileges from the DBP in 1981, which the Northern Cement Corp. obtained despite inadequate collateral and under disadvantageous terms.
P70 million in loans and advances also in 1981 from the PTA, which Holiday Villages, Inc. and Coral Island Resort and Development Corp. secured for a village resort complex project that never materialized.
A DBP-foreclosed textile plant and its machineries and facilities that Southern Textile Mills Inc. acquired under terms disadvantageous to the public.
The civil case also sought as much as P12.5 billion in moral damages and P250 million in exemplary damages.
Cojuangco’s codefendants in the civil suit included the late dictator, his widow and current Ilocos Norte 2nd District Rep. Imelda Marcos, former Tourism Minister Jose Aspiras and several other prominent people during the Marcos regime.
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