The STAR/File
Sandigan affirms dismissal of P1 billion Marcos wealth case
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - November 30, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has affirmed its earlier dismissal of a P1.052-billion civil forfeiture case against the Marcos family and their alleged cronies due to the insufficient evidence presented by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).

In a three-page resolution promulgated on Nov. 20 and obtained by reporters yesterday, the court’s Second Division said the PCGG failed to raise any new issue or argument in its motion for reconsideration that would warrant the reversal of its Sept. 25 ruling dismissing the case.

The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi with the concurrence of Associate Justices Oscar Herrera Jr. and Lorifel Pahimna.

“The Supreme Court has repeatedly held in a long line of cases that a Motion for Reconsideration should be denied when the same only rehashes issues previously put forward. In this case, no new argument was presented by plaintiff Republic of the Philippines in the instant Motion,” the Second Division said.

Filed by the PCGG in 1987, the forfeiture case, docketed as Civil Case No. 0008, seeks to recover from former first lady Imelda Marcos, her husband the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and their alleged cronies Bienvenido Tantoco Sr., Bienvenido Tantoco Jr., estate of Gliceria Tantoco and Dominador Santiago, a total of P1.052 billion in alleged ill-gotten wealth, composed of P609.27 million in shares of stocks and P443.05 million in real properties.

The PCGG also seeks P50 billion in moral damages and P1 billion in exemplary damages. The PCGG said the Marcoses and their co-defendants must also be compelled to pay temperate damages, nominal damages and other judicial costs, the amounts of which shall be determined by the court.

The suit stemmed from the alleged use of Tourist Duty Free Shops Inc. (TDFS), then owned by Santiago, to secure favorable deals from the government such as exemption from taxes and franchise to operate at international airports, for the benefit of the Marcos spouses and their cronies.

The PCGG said the Tantocos as well as Santiago also acted as “dummies, nominees and/or agents” of the Marcos spouses in unlawfully acquiring personal assets such as works of art, clothes, jewelry as well real estate properties in New York.

In its Sept. 25 decision, however, the Second Division said most of the documents presented by the PCGG were mere photocopies with no proof of the existence of the originals, in violation of the Best Evidence Rule.

The Second Division said the testimonies of the witnesses were not given weight as they testified on photocopied documents, which were not admitted as evidence due to their questionable authenticity. 

The Second Division, in its new resolution, found no merit on PCGG’s claim that it was able to present sufficient evidence pertaining to the “ill-gotten nature” of TDFS and to show that the Tantocos “acted as dummies and agents of the Marcoses in acquiring ill-gotten wealth.”

Civil Case No. 0008 was among 43 civil cases that PCGG filed at the Sandiganbayan against the Marcoses and their cronies in 1987, a year after the late dictator was ousted though a mass revolt.

The Sandiganbayan has already dismissed 22 of the cases including Civil Case No. 0008. There are 19 more cases which remain pending while one was indefinitely archived and one was ruled in favor of the government.

Among those recently dismissed by the anti-graft court due to “insufficiency of evidence” was the P102-billion forfeiture case which stemmed from the alleged grant of excessive loans to several firms particularly the shipping companies owned by the late ambassador to Japan Roberto Benedicto, during the martial law regime.

Early this month, however, the court allowed the PCGG to file an appeal on the case’s dismissal.

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