Imelda asks SC to revive P20-B cross-claim vs PLDT

- Delon Porcalla -
Trying to save her P20 billion cross-claim against the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Imelda Marcos has asked the Supreme Court to stop the Sandiganbayan from trying other PLDT-related cases until her suit is heard by the anti-graft court.

In her suit, the widow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos claimed that her family owns the telecommunications giant.

The former first lady said she would be "effectively be deprived of her right to assert her cross-claim" if the Sandiganbayan proceeds with cases related to PLDT. She did not state in her Supreme Court petition what these cases were.

Marcos claimed that she and her husband acquired PLDT through Prime Holdings Inc. in the 1960s and merely assigned their PLDT stake to the late PLDT president and chairman Ramon Cojuangco and other dummies.

Her Supreme Court petition said her family owned 121,741 shares. Prime Holdings owns 46 percent of Philippine Telecommunications Investment Corp. which, in turn, owns 26 percent of PLDT.

PLDT chairman Antonio "Tonyboy" Cojuangco, son of the late Ramon Cojuangco, sold the company to First Pacific Holdings, run by Manuel Pangilinan, in Nov. 1998.

"There will be no more practical use, other than enrichment of jurisprudence, for this Honorable Court to decide on the propriety of the cross-claim if the Sandiganbayan already disposes of the PLDT-related issues through a separate trial and decision," Marcos said in her petition.

After their ouster in 1986, the Marcoses were accused of acquiring ill-gotten wealth, including a stake in PLDT, which the Marcoses denied. But after the sale of PLDT to First Pacific, the former first lady claimed that her family had a stake in PLDT.

Last year, Marcos filed a P20 billion cross-claim before the Sandiganbayan but balked when told by the court that she would have to pay a P2 billion docket fee.

"A cross-claim, being an initiatory pleading, payment of docket fees therefore is necessary to vest this Court with jurisdiction over the subject matter of cross-claim," the anti-graft court told Marcos in its decision to throw out her claim last February. That was when she decided to go to the Supreme Court.

PLDT lawyers countered that the former first lady was already "precluded" from reviving her cross-claim because she did not exhaust available remedies such as filing an appeal before the Sandiganbayan.

"Ms. Marcos’ failure to give a valid reason for her belated cross-claim cannot be cured by the plaintiff’s lack of opposition thereto. The rules do not provide that a party’s lack of opposition is a ground to allow a belated cross-claim," PLDT lawyers said in their counter-argument.











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