Sandigan forfeits Marcos Ill-gotten wealth in ETPI
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Sandigan forfeits Marcos Ill-gotten wealth in ETPI

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - December 6, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — After numerous setbacks, the government has secured a victory in one of over 40 civil forfeiture cases it filed against the Marcos family and their alleged cronies in connection with ill-gotten wealth during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

In a 142-page decision promulgated on Dec. 4 but released to the media only last night, the Sandiganbayan Third Division awarded in favor of the government the shares of three sequestered companies owned by the alleged cronies of the late dictator and his widowImelda.

The anti-graft court’s Third Division, in its decision, however, dismissed the government’s claims against Imelda, her son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and former senator Juan Ponce Enrile “for failure of the Republic to establish preponderance of evidence against them.”

The court also dismissed the counterclaims against the government filed by Enrile, Imelda, Bongbong, Nieto Jr. and Africa for moral and exemplary damages.

The Third Division said Enrile, the Marcoses, Nieto and Africa failed to present evidence of the supposed damages. Docketed as Civil Case No. 0009, the forfeiture case sought to recover in favor of the government a total of P2.758 billion, which includes P2.756 billion in various shares of stocks and another P2.274 million in real properties.

Civil Case No. 0009 is among the 43 civil cases that the PCGG filed at the Sandiganbayan against the Marcoses and their cronies in 1987. The Sandiganbayan has dismissed 22 of the cases; 18 remain pending.

Covered by the Third Division’s ruling were the shares of Eastern Telecommunications Philippines Inc. (ETPI) in the names of Jose Africa and Manuel Nieto Jr.; Polygon Investors and Managers Inc.; Aerocom Investors and Managers Inc.; and small individual shares held by Victor Africa, Lourdes Africa, Rosario Songco, Raquel Dinglasan, Manuel Nieto III, Ramon Nieto, Victoria Legarda, Ma. Rita Delos Reyes, Rosario Arellano, Angelo Lobregat, Benito Nieto, Carlos Nieto, Carmen Tuazon and Rafael Valdes.

The ruling was penned by division chairperson and Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang with the concurrence of Associate Justices Bernelito Fernandez and Sarah Jane Fernandez.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) filed the case.

Based on the PCGG’s charge sheet, the Marcos couple and the other defendants conspired in a scheme to “monopolize the telecommunications industry” by “manipulating the purchase of the major stockholding of London-based Cable and Wireless Limited in ETPI.”

The Third Division, in its decision, directed Africa and Nieto Jr. and their legal heirs to reconvey to the Republic of the Philippines their shares in ETPI, “including all stock and cash dividends received and interest they may have earned.”

Africa and Nieto were also told to pay the government P1 million as exemplary damages.

Aerocom Investors, meanwhile, was ordered to pay the government P68.167 million equivalent to the value of its ETPI shares that were earlier transferred to ISM Communication Corp. on July 11, 2005.

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