Sandiganbayan junks P267-million civil case vs Marcos cronies

Sandiganbayan junks P267-million civil case vs Marcos cronies
Fe and Ignacio Gimenez were business associates of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and his wife, former Rep. Imelda Marcos (Ilocos Norte).
File photo

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan on Friday junked another multi-million civil forfeiture case against the Marcoses and their cronies due to “insufficiency of evidence.”

The STAR reported that the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division granted the spouses Fe and Ignacio Gimenez’s demurrer to evidence, in a case that seeks to recover P267.371 million of alleged ill-gotten wealth from the Marcos family and spouses Ignacio and Fe Gimenez.

A demurrer to evidence is a legal challenge to the prosecution’s sufficiency of evidence.

The Gimenezes were business associates of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, former Rep. Imelda Marcos (Ilocos Norte). A 2003 STAR report also said that Fe Gimenez served as an aide of the former first lady, and she allegedly acted as conduit of the Marcoses in the purchase of expensive artworks and properties in New York

Fe was also accused of funneling government money to her foreign accounts, which were later disbursed for her and the Marcoses' "enrichment," while Ignacio allegedly acted as a “dummy, nominee or agent” of the Marcoses in corporations, including Allied Banking Corp.

READ: Money Trail: The Marcos Billions

Only photocopies were presented

The Sandiganbayan, in junking the charges, said that the Presidential Commission on Good Governance, represented in court by the Office of the Solicitor General, presented “unauthenticated photocopies.”

The court said that the prosecution did not offer an explanation of why original documents could not be presented to the court.

“Considering that the Republic is essentially seeking to prove the contents of the photocopied exhibits that is submitted, this Court finds the violation of the best evidence rule in the case at bar to be fatal to the Republic’s cause,” the court held.

The Sandiganbayan also said that the copies submitted were also “so poor in quality” that numbers and letters were already unreadable.

The anti-graft court also pointed out that the PCGG and the OSG failed to present the declarant/affiant of the affidavits they presented as evidence. The affidavits were thus treated as merely “hearsay evidence.”

“Considering the defects present in almost all of the pieces of evidence that were submitted by the Republic, this Court finds that the Republic failed to discharge its burden and so rules that the respective demurrers of the Spouses Gimenez should be granted,” it held.

Associate Justice Alex Quiroz penned the ruling. Concurring were Associate Justice Reynaldo Cruz and Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega.

The ruling comes in the same month as the PCGG suffered yet another loss at the Sandiganbayan, also due to insufficiency of evidence.

READ: Sandigan junks another wealth case vs Marcoses

The anti-graft court’s Second Division, in a ruling dated September 25 but released early October, junked a P1-billion civil forfeiture case against the Marcoses and their alleged cronies – Bienvenido Tantoco Sr., Bienvenido Tantoco Jr., Gliceria Tantoco, Maria Lourdes Tantoco-Pineda and Dominador Santiago. —  Kristine Joy Patag with reports from The STAR/Elizabeth Marcelo





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