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Sandigan affirms forfeiture case ruling vs Tacloban mayor

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - June 24, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has upheld its ruling allowing the inclusion of two foreign investment companies in the civil forfeiture case filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against Tacloban City Mayor Alfredo Romuldez, brother of former first lady Imelda Marcos, and his wife Agnes in connection with their alleged ill-gotten wealth.

In a seven-page resolution promulgated on Tuesday, the anti-graft court’s third division denied Romualdez’s motion to reverse its Feb.18 ruling allowing the ombudsman to include Storton Investments Co. Inc. and Halston Investments Inc. as additional respondents.

The ombudsman said the two firms, both located in Hong Kong, are dummy companies of the Romualdez spouses, apart from four other firms – Romson Realty Corp., R & S Transport Inc., Fidelity Management Inc. and Dio Island Resort Inc.

The court found no merit in Romualdez’s argument that impleading additional respondents would only result in “inordinate delay” in the proceedings.

Romualdez said the case has been dragging on for more than 25 years, in violation of his constitutional right to a speedy resolution.

However, the court said the delay in the proceedings was not entirely caused by the prosecution, noting that Romualdez also filed various motions and petitions.

The third division maintained that a court must be “liberal” in allowing amendments to a pleading, especially during the early stages of the proceedings.

“Undoubtedly, this case is still in the stage prior to pre-trial, which falls within the early stages of the proceedings,” the court said.

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