Court sets auction of aircraft owned by Marcos’ logging crony
The Sandiganbayan has set the auction on Tuesday of two aircraft which the government won in the ill-gotten wealth case against a logging crony of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
In a notice of sheriff’s sale dated June 1, Sheriff IV Alexander Valencia said the court sheriff will sell the six-seater RPC-208 Cessna Centurion II and the 10-seater RPC-333 Cessna Golden Eagle II at a public auction tomorrow 10 a.m. at the hangar of Northern Resort Inc., (NRI) Delta Sector, General Aviation Area, Manila Domestic Airport in Pasay city.
The money will go to the Sandiganbayan cashier until the final determination of the case, which is appealable.
The aircraft were part of the sequestered properties under the name of the late Alfonso Lim Sr., Marcos’ logging crony who lost an ill-gotten wealth case filed by the government.
The aircraft were registered in the name of Lim’s Taggat Industries. The aircraft have been grounded since 1994.
Valencia said the court will sell the aircraft to the highest bidder and payable only in Philippine currency.
The appraised value of the aircraft could not be determined because the logbooks were missing, the court sheriff said.
Valencia said the sheriff will hold the public auction in compliance with the Sandiganbayan Second Division resolution dated March 29.
In the resolution, the anti-graft court division said “we find it but proper to allow the immediate sale of the aircraft herein below described in order to preserve their present value.”
The court said it allowed the sale of the aircraft after its December 2015 decision awarding the reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution and damages in favor of the government took effect.
In its decision, the court allowed the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to sell the aircraft at a public auction and ordered the winning bidder to remove the aircraft within 10 days from purchase; otherwise, the bidder would be fined P10,000 for each delay.
The NRI asked the court to sell the aircraft because these have taken up space in its hangar, resulting in losses to the company.
In its 2011 motion to resolve the case, the NRI said the PCGG’s inaction to remove the aircraft from the hangar “works to the further damage and prejudice of movants, which continues to suffer losses from being unable to utilize the spaces occupied by the aircraft attached by the PCGG.”
In the case that lasted two decades, the Sandiganbayan Special Second Division on Dec. 2015 ordered Lim to return to government all properties he acquired through favored timber concessions covering 600,000 hectares of the country’s 14 million hectares of forest cover.
But the anti-graft court denied the government’s claim to damages. The court also failed to mention the liability of the existing Marcos heirs, Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos and children Ilocos Norte Governor Imee, Senator Ferdinand Jr. and Irene.
The court ordered sequestered Lim’s real properties, including several parcels of land in Batangas, Rizal, Tagaytay, Cagayan and Paco, Manila worth over P511 million.
The properties in Cagayan and Manila were already sold at a public auction to settle tax liabilities and labor claims. All other sequestered properties, plants and equipment have also been fully depreciated.
Meanwhile, the court said it could not sequester Lim’s corporations because these already have zero value in shares of stocks, and that their registrations were revoked.
Besides the Taggat Industries, Lim also had timber concessions with the following companies because he had shares in some of these: Pamplona Redwood Veneer Co., Inc.; Southern Plywood Corp.; Western Cagayan Lumber Co., Inc.; Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc.; Veterans Woodworks, Inc.; and Sierra Madre Wood Ind., Inc.
Civil Case 0030
The amended civil complaint against Lim and Marcos, docketed as Civil Case No. 0030, was filed before the Sandiganbayan in Oct. 1991 by the PCGG.
Lim was accused of colluding with Marcos and former First Lady Imelda Marcos to obtain several timber concessions beyond the allowable 100,000 hectares of land under the 1973 Constitution.
Lim was accused of holding 533,880 hectares of land under seven corporations, far exceeding the allowable 100,000 hectares of land.
But the court noted that Lim actually had access to 633,880 hectares of forests, because of the wide expanse of forest lands in between Lim’s different timber concessions.
Lim was also accused of obtaining a permit to cut down Narra and Amaciga trees for export, upon the authorization of former President Marcos, in violation of an existing ban on the cutting and export of these trees.
Government accused Lim of “taking undue advantage of their relationship, influence, and connection with (the Marcoses)… to unjustly enrich themselves (from timber concessions and management contracts) at the expense of the Republic and the Filipino people.”
The court in its decision cited the Ministry of Natural Resources report under then Minister Ernesto Maceda.
The 1986 report said that Lim, when he took over the Veterans Woodworks, Sierra Madre Industries, and Tropical Philippines Wood Industries under the blessing of Marcos, “effectively increased the total hectarage under his management and control to 533,880 hectares, unequalled and unprecedented in Philippine Natural Resources history.”
The court also cited the Supreme Court’s decision saying that “so influential was Lim Sr. that he and Taggat and other sister companies received certain timber-related benefits without the knowledge, let alone approval, of the Minister of Natural Resources.”
“Lim Sr. doubtless utilized to the hilt his closeness to the Marcoses to amass what may prima facie be considered as illegal wealth,” the Supreme Court said.
The Supreme Court also found it “unfair, unacceptable and unconstitutional by any standard… for one Filipino out of 55 million to own, operate… more than 600,000 hectares out of a total forest land of 14 million.”
Lim Sr. passed away Feb. 11, 1995. The principal accused was then substituted by the administrator of his estate, Ruthie Lim-Santiago.
Civil Case 0030 is just one of 300 civil cases involving ill-gotten wealth lodged against the Marcos heirs and their cronies.
Imelda Marcos also faces 10 criminal charges of graft for allegedly having pecuniary interests in various foundations set up by her and her husband to accumulate ill-gotten wealth. Some of these foundations have Swiss bank accounts, where the Marcos couple allegedly stowed away millions of stolen taxpayers’ money. JE/rga
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