Children didn’t help Marcos amass wealth, says lawyer
MANILA, Philippines—The children of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos did not conspire or collaborate with their parents in the accumulation of P200-billion worth of ill-gotten wealth that the government is trying to recover, his son-in-law’s lawyer said on Wednesday.
In a statement, Robert Sison, lawyer of businessman Gregorio Ma. Araneta III, clarified the pronouncements of Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza and Supreme Court (SC) spokesman Theodore Te that Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos and Irene Marcos remain liable in the suit as heirs of the deposed dictator, who died in 1989.
Sison said Te and Jardeleza’s statements were “easily belied” by the Supreme Court’s Feb. 8, 2012 decision which stated that “[w]hile it was not proven that respondents (Marcos children) conspired in accumulating ill-gotten wealth, they may be in possession, ownership or control of such ill-gotten properties or the proceeds thereof as the heirs of the Marcos couple.”
The Marcos children’s lack of participation in any illegal act does not remove the character of the property as ill-gotten and, therefore, as rightfully belonging to the state, the high court had ruled.
“The participation of the Marcos heirs in the case is limited only to their supposed possession, ownership or control of allegedly ill-gotten properties. Assuming that properties are proven to be ill-gotten in the course of hearing, there is no liability, personal or otherwise, to the heirs, at most, it will only affect their share in the Marcos estate,” Sison explained.
Sison’s opinion came as anti- and pro-Marcos camps and legal pundits debate on whether the Supreme Court had really cleared former First Lady and incumbent Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos and her three children from the ill-gotten wealth case, which was filed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government in 1987.
In December 2005, the Sandiganbayan retained the former first lady but dropped the Marcos siblings and Araneta from the case. The government appealed to the Supreme Court, which reinstated the Marcos siblings as defendants in February 2012.
The P200-billion case stemmed from the Marcos family’s alleged use of the media networks IBC-13, BBC-2 and RPN-9 for their personal benefit; the alleged use of De Soleil Apparel for dollar salting; and the alleged illegal acquisition and operation of the bus company Pantranco North Express Inc.
Sison said that while the high court had ruled that the PCGG was unable to present clear evidence to show that the Marcos children were involved in amassing ill-gotten wealth, they were reinstated as defendants in the case “merely to protect their rights in the Marcos estate.”
The lawyer pointed out that the civil suit remained because the Sandiganbayan case survived the dictator’s death. Moreover, the high court had also said that the Marcos siblings were alleged to “control, possess or own ill-gotten wealth, though their direct involvement in accumulating or acquiring such wealth may not have been proven.”
Imelda and Bongbong are the executors of the late President’s estate and they, along with Irene and Imee, are deemed “compulsory heirs” under the law, the SC said.—Jerome Aning
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