Reopen Binondo bank case, court urged
The government is pressing its claim against the operators of the so-called Binondo Central Bank and has urged the Sandiganbayan Special Second Division anew to reverse its decision dismissing the P50-billion civil case and reopen their trial.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), through the Office of the Solicitor General, has contested the opposition filed by former Trade Minister Roberto Ongpin that urged the Sandiganbayan to stand pat on its ruling that absolved him and several others of liability in the case.
Ongpin had also asked the antigraft court to dismiss the motion for reconsideration filed by the PCGG against its ruling on the Binondo Central Bank.
Ongpin was one of those cleared of liability for allegedly manipulating the trade in dollars through the Binondo Central Bank during the regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The “bank,” which consisted of major currency traders, served as an underground dollar market in the 1980s when the Philippine economy was in shambles and dollars for foreign trade were hard to come by.
Ongpin’s codefendants were Gen. Fabian Ver, Marcos’ right hand man; former First Lady Imelda Marcos; Ver’s children Irwin, Rexor, Wyrlo, Helma Tuason and Faida Resurreccion. Also charged were Edna Camcam, Jimmy Chua, Go Pok, Catalino Coo, Raffy Chua, Peter Uy, Benito Peñalosa, Sio Lim, Wilson Chua, Balbino Diego, Arturo Pacificador, Sally See and Vinnie James Uy.
But the PCGG, in its latest pleading, insisted that it had a valid case for the reconveyance of ill-gotten wealth against the Marcos associates.
It disputed Ongpin’s contention that the government’s case did not seek to recover government assets but was only seeking damages arising from a tort or wrongful act over which the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction.
According to the PCGG, ill-gotten wealth is not limited to assets originating from government funds, but could involve that which was acquired through undue influence emanating from their public office, or through the use of their powers, influence or relations.
It pointed out that Ongpin and Ver, in particular, were accused of taking advantage of their positions, by themselves and in unlawful concert with the Marcoses, to enrich themselves at the expense of the Filipino people by operating the Binondo Central Bank.
“Plaintiffs’ causes of action included breach of public trust, abuse of right and power, unjust enrichment, accounting and damages,” it added.
The PCGG also maintained that the court should not have ruled on the case because the defendants, save for Ongpin, had not finished presenting their evidence.