SC may reopen Marcos estate tax case
MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo told reporters on Wednesday that “no decision is set in stone” when asked whether cases that had been decided with finality, such as the P203-billion estate tax liability of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s family, could still be reopened.
“The changes in the decision of the court is based on its composition,” Gesmundo said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.
“Just like in the United States, there are conservative and there are liberal. If the majority [of the justices] belong to the conservative, it’s difficult to have the decision reversed. But if majority is liberal, it’s very easy to do that. It’s just the same with our setup,” he added.
“Each magistrate has a different view on a case. We may be talking about one thing, but we’re all looking at different angles. So it depends on how good you are in defending your position,” Gesmundo said.
There is also a possibility, according to him, that a former decision or a prior judgment can be modified or reversed “if there are reasons so unique and the parties are filing a reconsideration or sometimes from a division to the en banc to have the case be heard.”
Gesmundo noted that in the past, there were circumstances when cases ruled on with finality were reopened or decisions modified “simply because the Supreme Court determined that there was violation of due process, so there was a mistrial.”
“In those instances, the court is always guided that cases should be terminated at a certain point in time, it is called res judicata,” he said.
Gesmundo stressed that convincing the high tribunal to have a case reopened or a decision reversed was on a case-by-case basis.
“What is important are the issues being brought by the parties before the Supreme Court. Is it a question of constitutional rights blatantly violated? Then we have to take a second look. It depends on the situation and circumstances that are being brought before the Supreme Court to have a decision be modified or reversed,” he explained.
Marcos earlier said that he wanted to reopen the case on the billion-peso estate tax leveled against his family. He is a co-administrator of his father’s estate.
“We’re actually encouraging that this finally be resolved because I don’t want to make a legal opinion for which I am not qualified. But rather to say, we were never allowed to argue because when this case came out, we were all in the United States,” he said in a television interview last month.
“Open the case and let us argue it so that all of the things that we should have been able to say in 1987, 1988 [and] 1989 that we were not able to say, we can clarify the properties that they say belong to us,” he added.
Supreme Court records showed that its ruling ordering the Marcos heirs to pay the principal amount of P23 billion in estate tax became final and executory on March 9, 1999. The total amount, however, ballooned to P203 billion due to penalties and surcharges.
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