P200-B forfeiture case vs. Marcos family junked

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MANILA – The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) suffered yet another blow on its ill-gotten wealth recovery efforts against the family of the late strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos.

The latest of this is a huge PHP200-billion recovery thrust by the PCGG on alleged ill-gotten wealth by the Marcoses that the Sandiganbayan dismissed on Monday for grounds of insufficiency of evidence supposed to pin down the accused with finality and prove it to be ill-gotten in nature.

In its 58-page decision, the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division by Associate Justice Alex Quiroz ruled to turn down the 33-year old case that seeks the reversion, reconveyance, restitution, and accounting of supposed ill-gotten wealth as well as damages.

“For failure of the plaintiff to prove its allegations by preponderance of evidence, the subject complaint filed against defendants Estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos,Imelda R. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos Manotoc, Irene R. Marcos Araneta, Ferdinand E. Marcos jr. and Constantino Rubio is hereby dismissed,” the court said.

Associate Justice Maria Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann E. Corpus-Manalac concurred.

Among other things, the court said the majority of the documentary evidence presented by the PCGG was photocopied, which violates the best evidence rule.

The photocopies include the income tax returns of the late president from 1961 to 1965.

“The fact that these documents were collected by the PCGG in the course of its investigations does not make them per se public records,” the court said, adding that much of the pieces of evidence were likewise missing.

The complaint was filed by the PCGG on July 16, 1987, a little more than a year after a popular uprising ousted Marcos. An amended complaint was also filed on September 22, 1987, impleading Rubio for allegedly being a dummy of the Marcos family.

A second amended complaint, dated February 9, 1988, was filed and impleaded Nemesio G. Co, Yeung Chan Kam, Yeung Chan Hu, and Yeung Chan Fan as defendants. The third amended complaint impleaded Imelda Cojuangco, the estate of Ramon Cojuangco, represented by Imelda Cojuangco and Prime Holdings Inc.

The cases against Co, Manotoc, Araneta, Kam, Hu, Fan and the Cojuangcos had all been dismissed earlier by the court in separate resolutions.

The PCGG claims supposed “breach of public trust” and “unjust enrichment” estimated to amount to PHP200 billion, an amount it said is impressed with constructive trust “in favor of the plaintiff (government) and the Filipino people.

Aside from the PHP200-billion in actual damages, the PCGG also sought PHP250 million in expenses and PHP50 billion in moral damages from the Marcoses.

The assets enumerated in the PCGG complaint include approximately PHP976 million at the Security Bank and Trust Company, approximately PHP711 million at the defunct Traders Royal Bank, 33 parcels of residential property and about 21,700 hectares of agricultural land in Leyte.

The PCGG had also cited Marcos ownership of shares of stock in numerous corporations totaling approximately 625 million shares including 2.4 million shares at PLDT valued at approximately PHP1.6 billion covered by shares of stocks in the Philippine Telecommunication Investment Corp. held by the PHI, Ramon Cojuangco and the latter’s associates a report by PNA said. (IAMIGO/CNS)

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