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Gov’t loses another Marcos wealth case

By: - Reporter / @NikkaINQ
/ 05:32 AM July 17, 2021

The Sandiganbayan has junked a civil case to recover the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their associates after the Philippine government failed to prove its allegations with a “preponderance of evidence.”

In a 52-page decision, the antigraft court’s Fourth Division dismissed the civil case against former first lady Imelda Marcos and the estates of the late Ricardo Silverio and Pablo Carlos Jr. and dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

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The June 30 decision was made public on Friday.

“After a judicious scrutiny of all the pieces of evidence offered in this case, the court finds that the plaintiff’s evidence falls short of the quantum required by law. Thus, the court is constrained to dismiss the instant complaint,” read the ruling authored by Associate Justice Alex Quiroz, chair of the court’s Fourth Division.

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Associate Justices Lorifel Lacap Pahimana and Edgardo Caldona concurred.

Latest setback

It was the latest setback in the government’s efforts to recover the Marcos family’s alleged ill-gotten wealth that was estimated at $10 billion.

In 2019, the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division also threw out a P200-billion forfeiture case against the Marcos couple and their three children for lack of sufficient evidence. The court ruled that without sufficient evidence that could establish that the properties in question were ill-gotten, it could not order their return.

Widow still free

Marcos’ widow was convicted of seven counts of graft in relation to her alleged financial interests in Swiss-based nongovernmental organizations while she was minister of Human Settlements but has not served a single day in prison.

In its latest ruling, the Sandiganbayan said that under Executive Order No. 14, “quantum of proof” is required to recover ill-gotten wealth, which means that the evidence presented by one side should outweigh what is presented by the opposing side.

The court said the government was given the opportunity to present all its evidence to back up its complaint.

“However, plaintiff miserably failed to do so as plaintiff’s evidence did not preponderantly show that the various business interests of defendant Silverio have enjoyed considerable grants and privileges obtained from defendant Ferdinand Marcos during his tenure as chief executive and such privileges could not have been so obtained were it not for the close association of defendant Silverio with [the former president],” the Sandiganbayan said.

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18 real properties

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by the Philippine government through the Presidential Commission on Good Governance on July 22, 1987. The government sought to recover some of the ill-gotten wealth of the dictator and his wife that were allegedly acquired with the help of the late Toyota dealer Silverio and businessman Carlos who acted as their dummies, nominees and agents.

The complaint was aimed at getting 18 real properties allegedly illegally acquired by the Marcoses.

These included parcels of land in Los Angeles county, Daly City and Hillsborough in California, as well as several condominium units in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, and Shell stations in California.

No evidence

Among the personal properties the government also wanted to recover were shares of stock in Silcor Finance in the United States, Delta Motors Corp. and Air Manila.

But the court said the government was unable to show how the Marcoses acquired these properties.

“More importantly, there was no evidence presented to show that these properties were in fact owned by them and that the same were ill-gotten. Hence, the court could not classify the properties … as ill-gotten wealth,” it said.

“There must be competent evidentiary substantiation to support plaintiff’s allegations as the court could not assume that the properties subject of the case were ill-gotten,” the Sandiganbayan ruled.

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TAGS: case, corruption, Ill-gotten wealth, Marcos, Sandiganbayan
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