Sandiganbayan junks ₱200-B ill-gotten wealth case against Marcos family

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 16) — An anti-graft court threw out yet another case involving the Marcos family’s allegedly ill-gotten wealth.

In a decision penned by Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Alex Quirol, the court’s fourth division junked a ₱200-billion forfeiture case against former President Ferdinand Marcos, his widow Imelda Marcos, his children Senator Imee Marcos, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Irene Marcos and Constante Rubio, a close associate of the former president, for lack of sufficient evidence.

"The bulk of the documentary evidence offered by the plaintiff are mere photocopies, most of which are barely readable," the Sandiganbayan said in a 42-page ruling promulgated on Monday. Photocopies of affidavits from witnesses were also dismissed by the court as hearsay.

It added, "The court acknowledges the atrocities committed during Martial Law under the Marcos regime and the 'plunder' committed on the country's resources. However, absent sufficient evidence that may lead to the conclusion that the subject properties were indeed ill-gotten by the Marcoses, the court cannot simply order the return of the same to the national treasury."

The counterclaims of the Marcos family and Rubio were also dismissed for their failure to provide enough evidence.

Sandiganbayan Associate Justices Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac concurred with the ruling.

Ill-gotten wealth

The PCGG accused the Marcos family and Rubio of having illegally amassed ₱200 billion from the government's coffers.

Senator Imee Marcos, former Senator Bongbong Marcos and Irene Marcos were accused of actively collaborating with their parents to illegally acquire money and properties.

Marcos family and Rubio were accused of having bank deposits worth around ₱976 million in the Security Bank and Trust Company and around ₱711 million at the Traders Royal Bank. Rubio, meanwhile, is accused of acting as the former President and his widow's bagman for the collection of kickbacks from Japanese reparations.

The PCGG alleged that the Marcos family and Rubio had a ₱976-million deposit account in Security Bank and Trust Company and a ₱711-million deposit account in Traders Royal Bank.

They are also accused to have 33 parcels of residential properties with an estimated value of ₱18 million and about 21,700 hectares of agricultural land in Leyte estimated to be worth ₱33 million.

They are also said to have 625 million shares of stocks in numerous corporations, including 2.4 million shares of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), valued at around ₱1.6 billion.

The Marcos family was further accused of having $292 million in foreign bank accounts, $98 million in investments in foreign banks, financial houses, and other corporations, and investments in real properties including several properties in New York, Hawaii, California and London.

They are also said to have a total of 177 paintings, some by world-famous painters, 42 crates of jewelry, Philippine and US currency, time deposit certificates and bearer certificates, ₱236-million worth of jewelry, and 24 boxes of jewelry, coins, medallions, perfumes, evening gowns and other vanity items worth more than ₱14 million.

Fifth loss

This is the fourth case involving the Marcos family’s allegedly ill-gotten wealth to be thrown out by the Sandiganbayan this year due to lack of evidence.

Back in July, it was reported that the Sandiganbayan dismissed a forfeiture case against Luis Yulo and the Yulo King Ranch Corporation involving the supposedly ill-gotten wealth of the late President.

In August, the Sandiganbayan Second Division dismissed the ₱102-billion forfeiture case filed in 1987 against the Marcoses, Roberto Benedicto, and other cronies. The court, however, allowed in November for the government to appeal the case.

In October, the court junked a ₱1.052-billion civil case filed in 1989 against the Marcoses, former Ambassador Bienvenido Tantoco Sr. and some of his relatives, and a ₱267.37 million civil case against the family, their business associates Fe Roa Gimenez and Ignacio Gimenez, and other cronies.

The government scored a win in the anti-graft court this month after it ordered close associates of the late strongman Marcos to return to the government ill-gotten wealth from their shares in Eastern Telecommunications Philippines, Inc., which the PCGG valued at around ₱2.95 billion.

CNN Philippines Multi-platform Writer Vince Ferreras contributed to this report.