Marcos crony told to pay over role in mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant
This undated file photo shows the mothballed nuclear power plant in Bataan which was completed in 1984.
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Marcos crony told to pay over role in mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

(Philstar.com) - June 15, 2021 - 4:59pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered businessman Herminio Disini, an associate of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, to pay government P1.1 billion in damages over his role in the construction of the shelved Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. 

Justices were unanimous in voting that Disini was liable for wielding "undue influence" in the awarding of the power plant's construction to Westinghouse Electrical Corp. when he took advantage of his close association with the former president. 

He was told to pay P1 billion ($20.80 million) to government in temperate damages, as well as P1 million ($20,800) in exemplary damages over his role in the project. Disini died in 2014.

Twelve magistrates voted in the ruling, with the decision penned by Associate Justice Ramon Hernando. The Supreme Court said Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo and Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier inhibited but did not disclose the reason. 

The nuclear power plant costs $2.2 billion to build and was completed in 1984. It was, however, never used due to safety concerns from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster two years later. 

In 2012, the Sandiganbayan ordered Disini to return some $50 million he got as commissions from Westinghouse, and cleared Marcos and his wife Imedla for lack of evidence.

But Supreme Court said the anti-graft court erred when it relied on an unsubstantiated photocopied document as secondary evidence showing Disini got the commissions. 

Still, it ruled that government has the right to be compensated in the form of damages. 

"The totality of the testimonial and documentary evidence of the government proved that Disini had unduly enriched himself at the expense of the people and the Republic," the en banc added. — Christian Deiparine

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