Magistrates of the anti-graft court’s Second Division earlier rejected a motion for reconsideration filed by the prosecution, citing procedural defects, particularly for failing to notify the defendants of the hearing date of the same as required by the Rules of Court.
Boy Santos
Sandigan allows OSG to appeal dismissed Marcos case
Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - November 13, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Phillipines — Giving government lawyers another chance, the Sandiganbayan has allowed the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to appeal the court’s Aug. 5 decision junking a P102-billion ill-gotten wealth case filed against the Marcoses and their alleged cronies.

Magistrates of the anti-graft court’s Second Division earlier rejected a motion for reconsideration filed by the prosecution, citing procedural defects, particularly for failing to notify the defendants of the hearing date of the same as required by the Rules of Court.

The OSG, apparently admitting its mistake, appealed for leniency or “the relaxation of the rigid observance of procedural rules in the interest of justice.”

“Considering that the present action is an ill-gotten wealth case involving a significant amount of public funds, the injustice to the Republic is not commensurate with the degree of its counsel’s mistake in inadvertently failing to comply with the prescribed procedure,” government lawyers said.

Despite objections from defense lawyers, the Sandiganbayan said it is granting the appeal and is now allowing the OSG to move for a reconsideration of its decision junking the ill-gotten wealth cases against the Marcoses.

Associate Justices Lorifel Lacap Pahinma, Michael Frederick Musngi and Oscar Herrera Jr., who chairs the Second Division, said they are of the view that the “defendant’s right to due process will not be impinged should the court act on the earlier motion (for reconsideration) as they will still be given an opportunity to study and meet the arguments therein for full review and appreciation by the court.”

The Sandiganbayan, in its latest ruling last Nov. 6, said it is thus giving defense lawyers 10 days to respond to the appeal filed by the OSG.

Three months ago, after more than 30 years since the filing of the civil forfeiture case demanding P102 billion in moral and exemplary damages from the Marcos family and their cronies, the anti-graft court junked the ill-gotten wealth charges due to insufficiency of evidence.

“Plaintiff (Government of the Philippines) miserably failed to adduce evidence to hold defendants Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda R. Marcos liable under any of the causes of action set out in the amended complaint,” the decision read.

“It saddens the Court that it took more than 30 years before this case is submitted for decision and yet, the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence to sustain any of the causes of action against the remaining defendants,” it added.

Aside from the Marcos couple, also cleared of the forfeiture case were 11 of their supposed cronies, namely Jose Tengco Jr., Placido Mapa Jr., Rafael Sison, Don Ferry, Ramon Monzon, Generosa Olazo, Cynthia Cheong, Ma. Luisa Nograles, Leopoldo Vergara, Jose Africa and Rodolfo Arambulo.

Filed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) on July 31, 1987, the forfeiture case stemmed from the alleged grant of excessive loans to several firms, particularly the shipping companies owned by the late Roberto Benedicto during the martial law regime.

Part of the reason why the ill-gotten wealth case was dismissed was that the OSG presented mere photocopies of documents as evidence against the defendants during trial.

The Sandiganbayan said the prosecution even failed to present key witnesses during trial to authenticate their affidavits.?“There is total lack of evidence to prove that defendants Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda R. Marcos participated in extending loan accommodation(s); they appropriated for their own benefit and unjust enrichment income and revenues derived from the operations of RPN-9, IBC-13 and BBC-2; and allowed defendants to hold and launder purloined funds,” the decision said.

ILL-GOTTEN WEALTH IMELDA MARCOS
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