Danding Cojuangco’s bid to dismiss case junked
Businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. lost his petition to the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the three-decade-old civil forfeiture case seeking to recover the windfalls he allegedly made from “behest loans” under the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.
In an 11-page decision promulgated on April 18, the graft court’s Second Division threw out for “lack of merit” Cojuangco’s May 2015 motion to dismiss the civil case lodged against him by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), which was tasked to recover billions of pesos in ill-gotten wealth.
In his motion, the San Miguel magnate and Marcos crony had invoked his right to a speedy trial, arguing that the case had been pending for 28 years with little progress as a result of delays on the prosecution side.
“There is a clear intent — nay, inability — to prosecute the present case. Still, all these years, the case has continuously been hanging over the heads of defendants like the sword of Damocles,” his motion read in part.
But in the decision penned by Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi, the court said Cojuangco failed to establish that there had been a violation of his constitutional right to a speedy disposition of the case.
An examination of the arguments of both parties revealed that “there were no vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays in the proceedings of the subject cases,” the court said.
“The plaintiff did not deliberately delay proceedings in this case but only exercised its legal remedy of filing the motions” seeking partial judgment of the case, it added.
The court said Cojuangco had also failed to raise his right to a speedy trial “in a timely manner,” and was thus deemed to have waived it.
Finally, the Sandiganbayan ruled that both the plaintiff—in this case the people of the Philippines—and the defendant were prejudiced by the delay.
“Jurisprudence dictates that individual rights do not preclude the people’s right to public justice,” it said.
This was not the first attempt on Cojuangco’s part to have the cases resolved and junked. He filed motions to dismiss in 2001 and in 2005, but both were denied in 2013.
Under Civil Case No. 0033, Cojuangco stands accused of securing loans from state-run banks for his businesses under the Marcos regime. He was one of several former business associates of the late dictator sued by the PCGG.
The former Tarlac governor and congressman, an uncle of former President Benigno Aquino III, had sought to dismiss the civil case, which over the years had branched into eight complaints.
The PCGG is trying to recover more than P170 billion in assets believed to have been diverted by the Marcoses to family and friends after their fall from power in 1986.
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