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DOES AGE TRUMP ACCOUNTABILITY?

Imelda Marcos not exempt from arrest – lawmaker

Lawmakers on Tuesday said Imelda Marcos, widow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, could still be arrested and jailed despite her advanced age, and the police should enforce any order from the court to take her into custody after she was sentenced by the Sandiganbayan to up to 77 years in prison for graft last week.

In a television interview, Sen. Francis Escudero said he disliked comments made by Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde, who appeared prepared to give special treatment to the 89-year-old former first lady because of her age.

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The PNP chief’s remarks came under criticism of the agency’s attitude toward Marcos compared to their eagerness to take custody of opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV after President Rodrigo Duterte voided the former military rebel’s amnesty.

‘Out of place’

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“I dislike the comment of Albayalde,” Escudero said in a television interview. “He has no business actually commenting on those things because as a member of the police force, he’s just supposed to just either implement the law or to obey the order of the court.”

If the court orders the arrest of Marcos, Albayalde’s opinion on her “age and other things are completely immaterial,” he said.

“And I find it, to say the least, out of place to be commenting on such a thing when everything is in the hands of the court—whether she will be arrested or not and whether she will be allowed to be out on bail or not,” Escudero said.

The Sandiganbayan on Friday found Marcos guilty in seven graft cases filed against her from 1991 to 1995 in connection with Swiss foundations she and her husband established and used to stash more than $200 million abroad while serving as a government official.

‘No legal anchorage’

The secret Marcos deposits had ballooned to $680 million by the time the dictator was toppled in the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.

Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman told a news conference there was no law that exempted Marcos from serving her prison sentence.

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Lagman, a human rights lawyer who fought the dictator, said a convict aged 70 or older was “only entitled to a mitigating circumstance.”

He said Marcos’ advanced age was a “nonissue” in determining whether she should be arrested, adding that not imposing the jail sentence because she was old “has no legal anchorage.”

“After a conviction, no one is exempted from incarceration whether one has held a high position in the government before or is an incumbent official of the government,” Lagman said.

He also repeated the Supreme Court’s reminder to lower courts to observe “grave caution” in granting bail to convicted offenders.

The Sandiganbayan said Marcos’ absence when it handed down its verdict appeared to be “unjustified” and ordered her arrest.

Under Rule 120 of the Rules of Court, a convict who fails to appear without justifiable cause would “lose the remedies available in these rules against the judgment and the court shall order his arrest.”

Marcos’ lawyer, Manuel Lazaro, filed a motion for leave of court on Monday to avail the defense of postconviction remedies, which could include staving off her arrest and justifying her absence from the promulgation.

A pending motion, however, would not prevent the release of the arrest warrant.

The continued absence of an arrest warrant for Marcos was denounced by victims of the dictatorship led by Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda).

Selda chair Trinidad Herrera-Repuno welcomed the guilty verdict but demanded Marcos’ immediate arrest.

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TAGS: Antonio Trillanes IV, Edcel Lagman, Ferdinand Marcos, Francis Escudero, graft conviction, Imelda Marcos, Marcos hidden wealth, Oscar Albayalde, PNP‎
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