Sandiganbayan denies Marcos bid to recover sequestered assets

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Sandiganbayan denies Marcos bid to recover sequestered assets
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has denied the plea of former first lady Imelda Marcos and her daughter Irene Marcos-Araneta for the return of several assets included in the P200-billion forfeiture case that was already dismissed in 2019 but remains on appeal.

In a 40-page resolution dated Jan. 25 and released yesterday, the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division denied the Marcoses’ omnibus motion for a writ of execution on the properties included in the dismissed Civil Case No. 0002, including a frozen trust account with P55 million and several sequestered properties and companies.

The Marcoses moved that the sequestration and freeze orders on assets and properties included in the complaint could now be lifted following the 2019 ruling.

They also moved for the express declaration that the properties were not ill-gotten and return them to the previous owners.

But in its ruling, the Court noted that an appeal was timely filed by Presidential Commission on Good Government before the Supreme Court in 2022.

While the Rules of Court allow the execution of judgment pending appeal, it said the reason cited by Marcos and Araneta does not justify the issuance of such order.

In their motion, the Marcoses noted that with the case having dragged on for more than three decades, they “have suffered greatly, mentally and emotionally, not to mention the dissipation of seized properties causing the unjust and unreasonable deprivation of their proprietary rights.”

“The fact that more than three decades have passed before the said case was decided is not a good reason considering that numerous factors have contributed to said length of period, which even includes the acquisition of jurisdiction over the defendants on different dates, the inclusion of additional defendants after the admission of the Second and Third Amended Complaints, and the filing of numerous motions and petitions, among others,” read the ruling penned by Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi.

“The defendants also offered no proof or reason how the properties subject of this case are being dissipated. The Court notes that the execution of judgment pending appeal is an exception to the general rule and must, therefore, be strictly construed. So, too, it is not to be availed of and applied routinely, but only in extraordinary circumstances,” it added.

Associate Justices Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Maryanne Corpus-Mañalac concurred with the ruling.

As to the Marcoses plea for the return of any property in light of the dismissal of the forfeiture case, the anti-graft court ruled that such “return and/or recovery should be the subject of an independent action to recover ownership, control and/or possession of any such property/ies to be determined in a separate proceeding filed before a court of competent jurisdiction in accordance with law.”

In its 2019 ruling, the court dismissed the forfeiture case due to the government’s failure to present sufficient evidence to prove that the subject properties were indeed ill-gotten.

The Sandiganbayan on July 22, 2022 denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the Office of the Solicitor General, which represented the PCGG.

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