Alleged Marcos dummies cleared in P2-B civil case

Alleged Marcos dummies cleared in P2-B civil case

/ 05:10 AM February 27, 2024

GRAFT CHARGES AGAINST BINAY / JULY 14, 2016Former vice president Jejomar Binay Sr. was formally charge with malversation, graft, and falsification of public documents over the allegedly rigged procurement for the construction of the P2.28-billion Makati Parking Building II at the Sandiganbayan, Quezon City July 14, 2016. INQUIRER PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

INQUIRER PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the charges against three alleged dummies of the late former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. in one of the last remaining civil cases against the deposed leader involving the alleged accumulation of P2.4 billion worth of properties believed to be ill-gotten wealth.

In an 18-page resolution dated Feb. 23, the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division granted the demurrers to evidence filed separately by three of the defendants in Civil Case No. 0010—Olympio Bermudez, the heirs of Geronimo Velasco and the joint administrators of the estate of Emilio Yap.

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The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) had accused Marcos, former first lady Imelda Marcos and her brother Alfredo “Bejo” Romualdez of being in “active collaboration” to acquire 95 percent of the Bataan Shipyard and Engineering Co., Inc. (Baseco).

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The PCGG also alleged that they acquired a “majority share” of Manila International Ports Terminal Inc. (MIPTI), majority shares of Philippine Dockyard Corp., and 80 percent of the Philippine Jai-Alai and Amusement Corp. (PJAC), through their alleged dummies, including Bermudez, Velasco and Yap.

According to the antigraft court, the prosecution failed to prove its allegations against the three in the amended complaint for the case, noting that only two witnesses were presented against them.

It pointed out that the witnesses, Maria Lourdes Magno and Antonio Rolando Eduarte, were “mere custodians” in the PCGG and Baseco, respectively.

The plaintiff in the case, or the Philippine government, also failed to comply with the original document rule by submitting exhibits that were “mere photocopies,” the court said.

It added that Magno and Eduarte, as witnesses, had “no personal knowledge” of the contents, preparation, execution and issuance of the documents.

“Clearly, their testimonies are insufficient to prove the charges in the amended complaint,” read the resolution penned by Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi, the Fourth Division’s chair.

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“The other documents admitted by the court likewise cannot be given probative value for failure to prove the charges against defendants Yap, Bermudez and Velasco,” it said.

Among the documents presented as evidence were the deeds of transfer; inventory of Baseco titles and contracts; and a certification by the Batangas provincial assessor dated April 27, 1987; among others.

Insufficient evidence

The prosecution was aiming, through the pieces of evidence, to prove that Romualdez was the “true and beneficial owner” of Baseco, that Marcos approved the transfer of certain parcels of land of the Export Processing Zone Authority in Mariveles, Bataan, to Baseco, and that Baseco, MIPTI and PJAC were “operating companies” of Romualdez and the Marcos couple.

“None of these exhibits prove the actual participation of defendants Bermudez, Velasco and Yap in the alleged acquisition of defendant Romualdez of a majority share in Baseco, MIPTI, PJAC and PDC,” the Sandiganbayan ruled.

It also stressed that the government was “unable” to show how the three had acted as dummies for Romualdez and the Marcos couple.

READ: Sandiganbayan junks another ill-gotten wealth case vs. Marcoses

“The plaintiff simply stated in its comments that the defendants exerted significant influence and control within the corporations and had access to internal documents and transactions, making it highly improbable that they did not act as nominee, dummy or agents of defendants Romualdez and spouses Marcos,” the court explained, adding:

“This assumption, however, has to be backed by competent evidentiary substantiation.”

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The Sandiganbayan’s Feb. 23 resolution was concurred in by Associate Justices Lorifel Lacap Pahimna and Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega. INQ

TAGS: Civil case, Marcos, Sandiganbayan

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