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Sandiganbayan junks bid to default Marcos civil case defendants

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Sandiganbayan junks bid to default Marcos civil case defendants
In a four-page resolution dated Nov. 25 and released yesterday, the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division ruled to deny the government’s plea due to its failure to notify the respondents of its motion.
pna.gov.ph

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has denied the government’s bid to declare in default seven defendants in an ill-gotten wealth case filed against the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his alleged cronies.

In a four-page resolution dated Nov. 25 and released yesterday, the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division ruled to deny the government’s plea due to its failure to notify the respondents of its motion.

The motion sought to declare defendants Anthony Lee, Severino dela Cruz, Jose Fernandez, Jose Marcelo Jr., Gabriel Llamas, Mariano Balgua and Jose Campos Jr. in default due to their failure to answer the case filed against them.

If declared in default, a defendant loses the chance to answer or participate in the stage of the proceedings.

The seven that the government sought to declare in default were among the 49 named in Civil Case No. 10 filed in 1987.

Among the defendants were the late dictator, his wife former first lady Imelda Marcos and her brother former Tacloban City mayor Alfredo Romualdez.

According to the Presidential Commission on Good Government, Civil Case No. 10 involves the litigation of over P2.4 billion worth of assets believed to be amassed illegally during the dictatorship.

The Sandiganbayan already declared in default several defendants in the case, including the Marcos couple in 1989; Hilario Ruiz, Arturo Pacificador, Joselito Manat, Ceres Manat and Antonio Ezpeleta in 1994 and Romualdez in 2018.

But in its latest ruling, the Fourth Division noted the government’s failure to comply with the requirements set by the Supreme Court to declare a party in default.

“In this case, the Court finds that the Affidavit of Service dated 10 October 2022 does not show that the subject seven defendants have been served with the motion declaring them in default. Moreover, the plaintiff’s motion itself shows that these defendants were not furnished with copies of the same,” read the ruling penned by Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi.

“Hence, absent such notice to the defendants, the plaintiff failed to satisfy the above-mentioned requirements to declare the defendants in default,” it added.

The court also noted that Campos had already been dropped as a defendant in 1989 as he is covered by the grant of full immunity to his father Jose Campos Sr. and his family, while the case against Lee was already dismissed in 1992.

Associate Justices Lorifel Lacap Pahimna and Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega concurred with the ruling.

FERDINAND MARCOS

SANDIGANBAYAN

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