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Sandiganbayan upholds junking of forfeiture case vs Marcos, cronies

/ 02:44 PM February 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan has upheld the dismissal of the P102 billion forfeiture case against the heirs of the late dictator, former president Ferdinand Marcos, and their cronies.

In a resolution dated February 13, Sandiganbayan’s Second Division explained that the plaintiff, in this case the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), presented no new arguments that would warrant a reversal of the anti graft court’s original decision.

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PCGG sought the forfeiture of assets belonging to crony Roberto Benedicto, who supposedly benefited from his close ties with Marcos, and former First Lady Imelda Marcos in acquiring loans for his companies.

The case was dismissed last August 2019 due to weak evidence, but the court allowed government lawyers to appeal the decision.

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“Considering therefore that no new and compelling grounds were presented, the present Motion bears no weight in calling for a reversal much less modification of the assailed Decision,” the anti-graft court resolution penned by Associate Justice Lorifel Pahimna explained.

According to PCGG, officials of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) were allegedly ordered by former president Marcos to provide loans to shipping companies owned by the cronies.

Some of the companies associated to Benedicto are Molave Bulk Carriers Inc., Aklan Bulk Carriers Inc., Fuga Bulk Carriers Inc., Coron Bulk Carriers Inc. and Ecija Bulk Carriers Inc.

PCGG also asserted that the cronies used earnings broadcast networks RPN 9, IBC 13 and BBC 2 for their own benefit.

However, the Sandiganbayan claimed that the evidence presented by the prosecution never showed that the defendants enjoyed a close relationship with the Marcos couple.

“The mere fact that the remaining defendants had held key positions in government during the term of then President Marcos does not lead to the conclusion that defendants took advantage of their positions and embarked upon devices, schemes, and stratagems to unjustly enrich themselves,” the court stated.

“(T)he court is still, as it was then, more inclined to accept the defendants’ theory that the approval of the loan accommodation was in the exercise of the Board of Governors’ sound business judgment […] and not by virtue of any close association or relation to President Marcos and/or his wife,” the resolution read.

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The tenure of Marcos, which spanned over two decades, was plagued with accusations of massive corruption and plunder, aside from human rights violations and enforced disappearances.

However, some of the recent court decisions favored the Marcoses as there was supposedly no proof that the business people benefited from ties with the affluent family.

Edited by EDV
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TAGS: Civil case, cronies, forfeiture case, former President Ferdinand Marcos, Ill-gotten wealth, Imelda Marcos, Marcoses, Martial law, PCGG, Philippine news updates, Presidential Commission on Good Government, Roberto Benedicto, Sandiganbayan, second division
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