Sandiganbayan allows Marcoses to stage defense in ill-gotten wealth case
MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has allowed the heirs of late former president Ferdinand Marcos, including his son, namesake and now President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., to present their defense for an ill-gotten wealth case, setting aside a 1996 resolution defaulting their appearance.
In a 13-page resolution from Sandiganbayan’s Second Division dated June 22, the anti-graft court “partially granted” the motion from the Marcoses to explain their side, even as the prosecution claims that the family lost their legal standing as early as September 1996, when they were unable to attend hearings concerning Civil Case No. 0014.
Civil Case No. 0014 tackles ill-gotten wealth accusations against couple Rebecco and Erlinda Panlilio, who allegedly acted as cronies for the Marcos patriarch and former first lady Imelda Marcos. According to the prosecution, the Marcoses channeled funds into the Panlilios and other families, which have supposedly paved the way for businesses in real estate, hotels, and resorts.
According to the Second Division, while it is true that legal proceedings must not be simply disregarded, courts should not be bound by technicalities — noting that “cases should be decided after giving all the parties a chance to argue their cases and defenses”.
“Technicality and procedural imperfection should, as a rule, not serve as bases of decisions. In that way, the ends of justice would be served,” the court said in the resolution penned by Associate Justice Arthur Malabaguio.
Furthermore, Sandiganbayan also noted that the Supreme Court granted former first lady Marcos’s motion to set aside the default order, citing her other legal battles and the difficulty of mounting a defense while they were on ‘forced exile’.
The Marcos family fled the Philippines after the 1986 People Power revolution, which ended the late strongman’s over two-decades hold on power. After leaving the country, they faced a deluge of cases, primarily from the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), which was tasked to go after the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth.
Sandiganbayan said the same should be granted to the heirs of the older Marcos, as it had been the case for their mother.
“From the foregoing, it is now incumbent upon this Court to grant, albeit belatedly, the motion filed by the defendant heirs of Ferdinand E. Marcos, for the very same reason the motion of defendant Imelda R. Marcos had been granted,” the Second Division said.
“Clearly, the situation of defendants Ferdinand R. Marcos II, Imee M. Manotoc, and Irene M. Araneta, at the time of service of the Alias Summonses in 1998, were similar to that of their mother, Imelda R. Marcos,” it added.
In terms of President-elect Marcos and his siblings failing to attend the August 13, 2019 hearing of the anti-graft court, the court emphasized that the proceedings are being done to search for truth, which should not be hindered by mere technicalities.
This means that Sandiganbayan also junked the motion from the Office of the Solicitor General — which is representing the PCGG on the case — that sought to declare the Marcoses as having waived their right to president evidence.
“Verily, the business of the courts is not just merely to dispose the cases seen as clutters in their dockets. Courts are in place to adjudicate the controversies with the end in view of rendering a definitive statement, and this can be only done by going into the very core and to the full extent of the controversy in order to afford complete relief to all parties involved,” Sandiganbayan said. With reports from Nicole Faye Agcaoili, trainee
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