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Heirs of Marcos cronies lose wealth case

The Sandiganbayan has finally ruled in favor of the government in a civil forfeiture case involving the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth.

In a 142-page ruling released Thursday night, the Sandiganbayan’s Special Third Division declared that the shares of stock in three sequestered companies—Eastern Telecommunication Philippines, Polygon Investors and Managers Inc. and Aerocom Investors and Managers Inc.—rightfully belong to the government because they were part of the Marcos family’s ill-gotten wealth.

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“Wherefore, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the shares … are ill-gotten wealth of defendant Ferdinand Marcos; hence should be reverted/reconveyed to the Republic of the Philippines,” it said.

Based on a list released earlier by the Presidential Commission on Good Government, which contained a summary of disputed assets sought from the Marcos family, the government hopes to recover P2.758 billion under Civil Case No. 0009.

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The decision, which ended 32 years of legal battle, covered shares of stock under the names of Marcos cronies Jose L. Africa and Manuel H. Nieto Jr., as well as small individual shareholders  Victor Africa, Lourdes Africa, Rosario Songco, Raquel Dinglasan, Manuel Nieto III, Ramon Nieto, Victoria Legarda, Ma. Rita de los Reyes, Rosario Arellano, Angelo Lobregat, Benito Nieto, Carlos Nieto, Carmen Tuazon and Rafael Valdes.

The Sandiganbayan ordered the heirs of Jose Africa and Manuel Nieto Jr. to return their shares of Eastern Telecom, as well as Polygon Investors and Managers and Aerocom Investors and Managers to the government, “including all the stock, cash dividends received and deposited and interests that may have accrued and may still accrue thereto.”
It also ordered Nieto’s heirs to pay the government some P68.167 million, equivalent to the value of the original shares of Eastern Telecom that were transferred to ISM Communications Corp. in 2005.

The court, however, dismissed the cases against defendants Marcos, his wife, Imelda, and former Senate president and Marcos’ defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile for failure of the government to establish “preponderance of evidence against them.”

Meanwhile, the legal heirs of Africa and Nieto were also ordered to “jointly and severally” pay the government P1 million in exemplary damages.

The Sandiganbayan said the exemplary damages should serve as a deterrent to “deleterious actions.”

“Ill-gotten wealth cases are hornbook demonstrations where damages by way of example or correction for the public good should be awarded. Fewer causes of action deserve the stigma left by exemplary damages,” the court said in the decision written by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and concurred in by Associate Justices Bernelito Fernandez and Sarah Jane Fernandez.

The monetary awards , the court said, are subject to a 6 percent interest annually, from the date of the decision until they are fully paid.

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TAGS: Marcos, PCGG, Sandiganbayan, wealth case
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