Sandiganbayan dismisses P200-B forfeiture case vs Marcoses
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan has dismissed another civil case against the late dictator, former president Ferdinand Marcos, and his family, where P200 billion worth of alleged ill-gotten wealth was involved.
In its 58-page decision, the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division dismissed the forfeiture case due to the inability of the prosecution to prove the allegations against the Marcoses.
The case was filed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), against Marcos children Senator Imee Marcos, Irene Marcos-Araneta, and former Senator Bongbong Marcos, in an attempt to recover at least P200 billion allegedly purloined from public coffers during their father’s over two-decade rule.
“Wherefore, premises considered, for failure of the plaintiff to prove its allegations by preponderance of evidence, the subject Complaint filed against defendants Estate of Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos Manotoc, Irene R. Marcos Araneta, Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., and Constante Rubio is hearby dismissed,” the court said.
“Similarly, the respective counterclaims of the said defendants are dismissed for their failure to prove the same by preponderance of evidence,” the decision, penned by Fourth Division chair, Associate Justice Alex Quiroz, stated.
Concurring in the decision were Associate Justices Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.
On top of the P200 billion being sought by the PCGG for actual damages, commission is also seeking P50 billion in moral damages, and P250 million as compensation for expenses incurred in the process of recovery.
From the supposed ill-gotten wealth, P976 million were deposited at the Security Bank and Trust Company, and another P711 million at the Traders Royal Bank.
Also included in PCGG’s list are 33 parcels of residential properties worth P18 million, and 21,700 hectares of land amounting to P33 million — aside from various investments in local and foreign banks and companies.
Just this July, Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses has voluntarily inhibited from the case, after the Marcoses sought to remove him from hearing the case.
This is the fifth civil case that was decided in 2019, with the Marcoses and their cronies winning in four and losing in one case.
Like in the other cases where the government lost, the court cited that the lack of original documents, based on the Best Evidence Rule, was the reason for the dismissal of the case. The court claims that PCGG only presented photocopies of vital pieces of evidence.
“The fact that these documents were collected by the PCGG in the course of its investigation does not make them per se public records,” the court noted.
In the case where the Marcoses lost, shares of businessmen Jose Africa and Manuel Nieto Jr. in Eastern Telecommunications Phils Inc. were proven to be sourced from Marcos’ illegally amassed assets.
The Marcos family maintained that they did not steal anything.
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