Legal maneuvers stall gov’t cases vs Marcoses
In the two decades that the cases against the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his associates have languished in the courts, the country has seen five presidents and six summer Olympics have been held.
According to a new study of the prosecution record of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the cases against Marcos, his family and known associates have been pending in various courts for as long as 21 years, stalled by the legal maneuvering of the defendants.
The study, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) and conducted by the American Bar Association (ABA) in consultation with the PCGG, was released on Friday at the Haydee Yorac Lectures on good governance, an annual event honoring the late former chair of the commission.
The study covered 84 pending cases of the PCGG, the agency created by the Corazon Aquino government following Marcos’ ouster in 1986 to recover the dictator’s ill-gotten assets.
“It is very, very, very shocking. Can you imagine, after 20 years, the cases are still there, live. And there hasn’t been a conviction,” said Sen. Teofisto Guingona III.
“If you do not have convictions, if you do not put people behind bars, then there is incentive to be corrupt. And so something is very very wrong with the system,” Guingona said.
“That is the shocking incentive for those who are corrupt, and a disincentive to those who want to walk the straight and narrow path,” he said.
Lawyer Racquel Ruiz-Dimalanta, an ABA consultant, said live cases stay pending in the Ombudsman for an average of nine years, while cases appealed from the Ombudsman to the Supreme Court remain there for an average six years.
Sandiganbayan litigation meanwhile last for an average 20 years while cases elevated from the antigraft court to the Supreme Court have been pending for an average nine years, Dimalanta said.
She said the delays have mainly been caused by “interlocutory appeals,” or petitions that the defendants file even before trial could begin. Such pleadings cover issues that, for the prosecution, may well appear to be dilatory, she said.
“These appeals cover little incidents elevated to the [Supreme Court] like should so-and-so evidence be admitted? Or respondents could talk and agree that they could question the same issue one by one,” Dimalanta said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.