Justice recuses self from ill-gotten wealth case vs Imelda, Marcos children
MANILA, Philippines—An associate justice of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has recused himself from a civil case for the recovery of at least P200 billion of wealth allegedly stolen by the Marcos family during the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s more than 20-year rule.
In a resolution by the court’s Special Fourth Division released this week but dated June 19 yet, Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses said he was volunteering to inhibit himself from the wealth recovery case to “put the defendants’ mind at rest regarding the court’s impartiality.”
“In order to avoid even the appearance of impropriety or irregularity, undersigned voluntarily inhibits from this case in the higher interest of justice,” he said, writing the resolution even before the prosecution files its official comment on a petition filed by Imelda, Marcos’ widow, and their daughter Irene Marcos Araneta, who are defendants in the case.
The case, filed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), demanded that Imelda and Irene return at least P200 billion in wealth accumulated by them allegedly through theft of public coffers during Marcos’ one-man rule.
The mother-and-daughter Marcos, however, sought to inhibit Trespeses from the case, claiming that the associate justice was biased because he had been court attorney of ousted Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno during whose time the Supreme Court ruled the reinstatement of the Marcos children as defendants in the recovery and forfeiture case.
Imelda and Irene claimed that Trespeses could not be an objective justice because he had taken part in lower courts and appellate court proceedings on the same case against the Marcoses.
The resolution issued by the Sandiganbayan’s Special Fourth Division said the Marcoses “conclude that he must have been privy to the proceedings and deliberations before the Supreme Court when G.R. No. 171701 was decided.” General Ruling 171701 reinstated the Marcos children as defendants in the case.
The ruling was penned by Sereno.
Although he had already decided to recuse himself from the case, Trespeses said he was not privy to proceedings and deliberations that led to the reinstatement of the Marcos children as defendants in the case.
“While it is true that undersigned was working as Court Attorney of Justice Sereno at the time the Decision in G.R. No. 171701 was penned by her, he was not privy to the proceedings and deliberations involved in the said case,” Trespeses said in the resolution he wrote announcing his decision to inhibit himself.
No decision has been made on other criminal cases pending against Imelda following her conviction for seven counts of graft in November 2018 for laundering money in Swiss accounts while she was occupying high positions in the Marcos dictatorship—as member of Marcos’ rubber stamp legislature, Batasang Pambansa, Metro Manila governor and minister of human settlements./tsb
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