What Went Before: Ill-gotten wealth case vs Marcoses, cronies
In March 1988, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) filed a civil case in the Sandiganbayan for the recovery of alleged ill-gotten wealth from former first lady Imelda Marcos, her late husband Ferdinand Marcos, Bienvenido Tantoco Sr., Bienvenido Tantoco Jr., Gliceria Tantoco, Ma. Lourdes Tantoco-Pineda and Dominador Santiago.
The Tantocos and Santiago were accused of serving as dummies or agents for the Marcos couple in unlawfully acquiring assets, jewelry, expensive artworks and real estate, including properties in New York.
Tourist Duty Free Shops Inc., formerly chaired by Santiago, was allegedly used to defraud the government of millions of pesos in franchise taxes and obtain unlimited duty and tax-free importation benefits.
Duty Free was also alleged to have been exempted from all business and income taxes, paying only a minimal franchise tax of 7 percent of the company’s net sales.
In 1989, Tantoco Jr. and Santiago asked the Sandiganbayan to compel the PCGG to provide them with copies of the documentary evidence against them so they could prepare for their trial.
The PCGG opposed the move, but the respondents went to the Supreme Court and won a favorable ruling in 1991.
The commission produced the documentary evidence during the pretrial, which concluded on Sept. 10, 1996.
Tantoco Jr. and Santiago, however, objected to the marking of additional documents produced by the PCGG during the hearings on Sept. 23 and 25, 1996.
In January 2009, the Sandiganbayan ruled against the admission of about 120 documents, citing doubts in their due execution and authenticity because many of them were photocopies or mere transmittals.
The PCGG, through the Office of the Solicitor General, elevated the case to the Supreme Court.
In April 2014, the high court’s First Division ruled that the Sandiganbayan did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it excluded the documentary evidence due to the government’s failure to produce them at the pretrial period, as required by court procedures.
In August this year, the Sandiganbayan’s Second Division dismissed a separate P102-billion forfeiture case filed in 1987 against the Marcos family and a crony due to missing original copies of key documents. —INQUIRER RESEARCH
Sources: Inquirer Archives, sb.judiciary.gov.ph
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