Court junks another Marcos ill-gotten wealth civil case

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 25) — The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has junked another ill-gotten wealth case — the third this year — against the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr., former First Lady Imelda Marcos, and their cronies.

The court's 4th division dismissed the ₱267.37 million civil case against the Marcoses, their business associates Fe Roa Gimenez and Ignacio Gimenez, and other cronies due to insufficient evidence, according to a 37-page decision on October 14 and released on Friday.

Fe was accused of unlawful transfer of millions of government funds to several accounts in her name in foreign countries. Meanwhile, Ignacio was allegedly a dummy of the Marcoses in corporations, such as Allied Banking Corporation. The forfeiture case was filed in 1987 by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the agency tasked to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses.

The court granted the two demurrer to evidence — a motion to dismiss on the ground of insufficiency of evidence — filed separately by the Gimenezes in 2016.

The Sandiganbayan sided with the Gimenez spouses that the PCGG presented unauthenticated photocopied documents as evidence. It said this violates the best evidence rule under the Rules of Court.

"Considering that the Republic is essentially seeking to prove the contents of the photocopied exhibits that it submitted, this court finds the violation of the best evidence rule in the case at bar to be fatal to the Republic's cause," said the court decision penned by Associate Justice Alex Quiroz.

It's the third case lost by the PCGG this year due to what the court said were insufficient evidence. In August, the Sandiganbayan Second Division dismissed the ₱102-billion forfeiture case filed in 1987 against the Marcoses, Roberto Benedicto, and other cronies. Earlier this month, the court's second division also junked the ₱1.052-billion civil case filed in 1989 against the Marcoses, former Ambassador Bienvenido Tantoco Sr. and some of his relatives.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the administration did not interfere with the case.

"The Administration does not interfere with the judiciary. The rule of law must always prevail in courts regardless of who are the parties. Their decision must be accorded respect and obedience," Panelo said.

Meanwhile, Senator Imee Marcos, daughter of the late strongman, said that they have finally been given justice for 34 years.

"Sabi justice delayed is justice denied, at 34 yrs ng nakalipas- pero marubdob pa rin ang pasasalamat namin," Marcos said in a statement.

[Translation: They said justice delayed is justice denied, and 34 years have passed. But we give our ardent thanks.]