Gov’t loses bid to reverse junking of P267-M forfeiture case vs Marcoses, cronies
MANILA, Philippines — Sandiganbayan has affirmed the dismissal of the P267-million ill-gotten wealth case against the Marcos family and their cronies.
In a resolution dated January 23, the anti-graft court denied the bid of the Philippine government through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to reverse Sandiganbayan’s 2019 decision which dismissed the forfeiture case against then-President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda, and their cronies for insufficiency of evidence.
According to Sandiganbayan, the photocopied evidence presented by the government violates the “best evidence rule” which states that “the original document must be produced whenever its contents are the subject of inquiry.”
“As held by the Court in its presently assailed Resolution, pieces of evidence that were collected by the PCGG in the course of its investigation of the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth remain as private documents and do not become part of public records because what becomes public are not the private documents themselves but rather only the recording thereof in the PCGG,” Sandiganbayan said.
Further, the anti-graft court said: “Absent proof that the originals of these photocopied exhibits have been lost, destroyed or cannot be produced in court, the same must be disregarded for having no probative value.”
Sandiganbayan also debunked the government’s argument that there was enough evidence to show that assets of couple Fe Roa Gimenez and Ignacio Gimenez are “manifestly disproportionate to their source of income.”
The anti-graft court said that the government’s evidence to prove the Gimenez couple’s alleged “incapacity to purchase the properties listed under their name” can also be considered “somewhat antiquated” since Fe Gimenez’s Statement of Assets and Liabilities that they presented dated back to 1969.
Sandiganbayan argued that the Gimenez couple’s oldest property, as stated in the certified true copies of certificates of title and tax declarations covering properties under the name of the Spouses Gimenez, was acquired in 1977.
Likewise, the anti-graft court agreed with the Gimenez couple that “the fact that their assets were sequestered does not automatically mean that the same is already ill-gotten wealth.”
“At this juncture, the Court would like to stress that PCGG’s power to sequester alleged ill-gotten properties is likened to the provisional remedies of preliminary attachment to receivership,” Sandiganbayan said.
Sandiganbayan also said that the testimonies of the witnesses presented by the government are “mere hearsay” since they do not have “personal knowledge on the documents they identified in court.”
“With this finding, the Court finds that the Republic has failed in its burden of proving its case against the Spouses Gimenez by preponderance of evidence and consequently, the present civil forfeiture case should be dismissed,” the anti-graft court said.
PCGG and OSG filed Civil Case No. 0007 before the Sandiganbayan on July 21, 1987.
The ani-graft court already dismissed the case in 2006, but the Supreme Court ordered to reopen the case in 2016.
In the complaint, the Gimenez couple were accused of being close business associates of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and wife Imelda Marcos.
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