Malacañang clarified that the executive branch has no hand in the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division’s move to junk the PHP200-billion civil forfeiture case against the family of the late president Ferdinand Marcos.
This came after the anti-graft court dismissed the forfeiture case against Marcos, his wife Imelda, their children Imelda Josefa, Irene, and Ferdinand Jr.; and the family’s “confidante” Constante Rubio due to the Philippine Commission on Good Governance’s (PCGG) failure to “prove its allegations by preponderance of evidence.”
Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the Sandiganbayan’s decision was based on the pieces of evidence presented by concerned parties to the court.
“As we have repeatedly said, we never interfere with the decision of the court. The court will always decide on the basis of evidence,” Panelo said in an interview with Palace reporters.
“Well, we always consider that all courts will observe due process because that is precisely what the Constitution tells everyone, lawyers and courts,” he added.
In a 58-page decision released on Monday, the Sandiganbayan ruled against the PCGG because only 24 of 188 pieces of documentary evidence submitted were original copies while the remaining documents were either certified true copy of the original, certified true copy, or photocopy.
The court said the PCGG clearly violates the best evidence rule.
“The fact that these documents were collected by the PCGG in the course of its investigations does not make them per se public records,” the anti-graft court said.
The decision was based on the complaint filed on July 16, 1987 against the Marcoses for allegedly amassing an ill-gotten wealth.
The case seeks to recover the PHP200-billion of the Marcos family purportedly obtained “during their incumbency as public officers” and were not established as “having been lawfully acquired.”
The assets include approximately PHP976 million at the Security Bank and Trust Company, approximately PHP711 million at the defunct Traders Royal Bank, 33 parcels of residential property, and about 21,700 hectares of agricultural land in Leyte.
The Marcoses were also accused of owning shares of stock in numerous corporations totaling around 625 million shares, including 2.4 million shares at PLDT valued at approximately PHP1.6 billion covered by shares of stocks in the Philippine Telecommunication Investment Corp. held by the PHI, Ramon Cojuangco and the latter’s associates.
Asked if the Palace was not bothered by the court’s decision, Panelo said: “Any government is concerned with any case filed by it against perceived transgressors of the law. But the final analysis is it’s the court that always decides whether you have a case against the accused.”
Panelo, however, acknowledged that the complaint was dismissed due to the PCGG’s failure to present original documents that will back its claim about the Marcoses’ supposed hidden wealth.
He said it would now be up to Solicitor General Jose Calida to take appropriate actions with regard to the Sandiganbayan’s ruling.
“That’s for the SolGen to decide. We will not preempt,” Panelo said.
This is the fourth time the PCGG lost its case filed before the Sandiganbayan due to insufficiency of evidence.
On Oct. 23, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division junked the PHP267.371-million civil forfeiture case against the Marcos family and spouses Ignacio and Fe Jimenez.
Meanwhile, the Sandiganbayan Second Division dismissed the PHP1-billion and PHP102-billion forfeiture cases against the Marcoses and their cronies on Sept. 25 and Aug. 5, respectively.
The PCGG, however, won a civil forfeiture case against the Marcoses earlier this month, after the Sandiganbayan Third Division awarded the shares of three sequestered companies owned by alleged cronies to the government. (PNA)