The Sandiganbayan has deferred issuing a warrant for the arrest of the incumbent Ilocos Norte 2nd district representative to give way to a hearing on her motion to avail herself of “post-conviction remedies” set for tomorrow.
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Sandiganbayan defers Imelda Marcos' arrest warrant
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - November 15, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — There will be no arrest just yet for convicted grafter former first lady Imelda Marcos.

The Sandiganbayan has deferred issuing a warrant for the arrest of the incumbent Ilocos Norte 2nd district representative to give way to a hearing on her motion to avail herself of “post-conviction remedies” set for tomorrow.

The anti-graft court convicted her last Nov. 7 on seven counts of graft over her funneling of funds into several Swiss foundations she and her late husband created during martial law.

“I just learned that the Court has deferred release of the warrant of arrest because the lawyer of Mrs. Marcos filed a motion (on Monday) asking leave of court to avail of remedies and deferment of issuance of warrant,” Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang said.

Last Friday, the Fifth Division also ordered the issuance of a warrant for Mrs. Marcos’ arrest as well as the forfeiture of her bail bond after she and her lawyer Robert Sison failed to attend the promulgation despite being duly notified. No arrest warrant was issued on that day.

She is facing six to 11 years in prison for each count, and perpetually barred from holding public office.

“Considering that accused and her counsel were duly served notices of promulgation at their given address... their absence appears to be unjustified,” the Fifth Division said in its order dated Nov. 9 but released to the media only on Nov. 13.

Under Section 6, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court, an accused who fails to attend the promulgation of the decision on his or her case, without justifiable cause, shall “lose the remedies available in these rules against the judgment and the court shall order his/her arrest.”

Tang clarified that while the Fifth Division had ordered the forfeiture of Mrs. Marcos’ previous bail bond, she may still seek another bail while she appeals her graft conviction.

“Ordinarily, an accused who has been convicted of a bailable offense may still be granted bail pending appeal which is addressed to the sound discretion of the court,” Tang said.

On Monday, Mrs. Marcos’ camp filed an “Entry of Appearance” for former Court of Appeals justice Manuel Lazaro who will now be representing her in the cases, replacing Sison, who – as Mrs. Marcos had claimed – remains confined in hospital.

The Fifth Division staff refused to furnish the media with copies of both motions, but confirmed that they are set for hearing for tomorrow.

Under Section 6, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court, an accused who skipped the promulgation of his case may still avail himself of post-conviction remedies, including applying for bail, provided he can justify his absence during the promulgation of the decision.

“Within fifteen (15) days from promulgation of judgment, however, the accused may surrender and file a motion for leave of court to avail of these remedies. He shall state the reasons for his absence at the scheduled promulgation and if he proves that his absence was for a justifiable cause, he shall be allowed to avail of said remedies within fifteen (15) days from notice,” Section 6 read.

On the day she was convicted, Mrs. Marcos was shown on social media posts to have been partying with guests of her eldest daughter Imee, who was celebrating her birthday.

Mrs. Marcos has filed her certificate of candidacy to replace Imee as provincial governor. Imee is running for senator in the midterm polls next year.

The cases against Mrs. Marcos were filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in December 1991. She was then minister of human settlements and concurrent Metro Manila governor from 1976 to 1986 and member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa from 1978 to 1984 when the crimes were committed.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government had earlier identified a total of $658-million deposits in the Swiss dollar accounts of the Marcos couple, about $200 million of which was supposedly transferred to the Swiss foundations.

Arrest warrant needed

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde assured the public – especially administration critics – that Mrs. Marcos would be arrested as soon as the court issues a warrant for her arrest.

“Let us make that very clear. We will serve the warrant without fear or favor,” he said at a press conference yesterday.

Albayalde said the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) is constantly coordinating with the anti-graft court and is on standby for the possible issuance of an arrest warrant.

He also clarified his previous remarks that some quarters had understood to mean he was being lenient with the 89-year-old former first lady. He stressed he was just being polite when he said the PNP would also consider Mrs. Marcos’ age in carrying out any arrest order.

“You know our ladies here, they don’t want to be called matanda, may edad but it doesn’t mean that we will not arrest her,” he said.

“We will make an arrest as soon as the warrant comes out and as soon as the Sandiganbyan gives us a copy,” Albayalde added.

For opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay, Sandiganbayan’s forfeiture of the bail bond of Mrs. Marcos should mean her immediate arrest.

“Since the Sandiganbayan has forfeited the bail bond of Rep. Marcos for her and her lawyer’s unjustified failure to appear during the promulgation of the decision in her graft cases, the issuance of a warrant of arrest by the anti-graft court against Marcos is a matter of course,” he said.

He said the forfeiture of the bail bond “quashed her temporary liberty and justifies her arrest and detention pending the restoration of her bail bond or her posting of a new one subject to the discretion of the Sandiganbayan.”  – With Paolo Romero, Emmanuel Tupas, Jess Diaz, Delon Porcalla

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