Reverse ruling on Marcoses, Ongpin, court asked
Gov't lawyers cite loopholes of a Sandiganbayan verdict

MANILA, Philippines – Government lawyers have asked the Sandiganbayan second division to reverse its Jan. 19, 2012 decision dismissing a P50-B damage suit filed in 1987 against the late President Ferdinand Marcos, former First Lady now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, former Trade Minister Roberto Ongpin, the late Armed Forces chief Fabian C. Ver, and 18 others.

In a 32-page motion for reconsideration filed February 17, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) said the graft court’s ruling was “procedurally irregular” because it was issued even when there were still hearings scheduled beyond the date of the verdict.

“It was therefore surprising and highly irregular for the Honorable Court to have promulgated a decision in this case as it did on January 19, 2012, twelve days before the scheduled January 31, 2012 and February 1, 2012 hearing dates which were set for reception of defendants,” the PCGG-OSG pointed out.

The motion was signed by PCGG Commissioner Gerard A. Mosquera, Legal Department head Bayani H. Jacinto special legal counsel Edgardo I. Kilayko, Assistant Solicitor General John Emmanuel F. Madamba, State Solicitor Mauricia E. Dinopol and Associate Solicitor Dino Robert L. De Leon.

The complaint alleged that former President Ferdinand Marcos and Mrs Marcos ordered Ongpin and Ver to round up the country’s biggest black market dollar traders in 1984 and organize them into the Binondo Central Bank (BCB).

PCGG said the BCB engaged in the buying of US dollars and stashing them abroad while sheltered by the Marcos government, for which the Marcos couple, Ongpin and Ver reportedly received protection fees.

Banking facilities were supposedly provided by defendant Edna Camcam, then a director of the Equitable Banking Corporation and reportedly a ‘special friend’ of Ver.

Ver’s children, Irwin, Rexor, Wyrlo, Helma Ver-Tuason, and Faida Ver-Resureccion were also named in the case along with then Presidential Security Command legal officer Balbino San Diego and lawyer Arturo Pacificador.

Black market traders Jimmy Chua a.k.a. Chua Hang, Go Pok a.k.a. Tan Guat, Catalino Coo, Raffy Chua, Peter Uy, Benito Peñalosa a.k.a. Chua Se Tat, Yao So a.k.a. Sio Lim, and Wilson Chua a.k.a. Chua Tiong Kian were also implicated.

No record

In dismissing the case, however, the Sandiganbayan said the complaint failed to mention specific actionable acts by the defendants and did not spell out how the defendant public officials “abused their position to enrich themselves” in conspiracy with others.

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Samuel R. Martires, with Associate Justices Napoleon E. Inoturan and Teresita V. Diaz-Baldos, division chairperson, concurring.

PCGG-OSG lawyers however questioned the portion of the ruling stating that Sio Lim, Balbino Diego, Peter Uy, Edna Camcam, Jimmy Chua, Benito Peñalosa and Catalino Coo had filed demurrers to evidence by adopting arguments raised by Go Pok in his Motion to Dismiss.

“The court’s assertion is not supported by the record. There is no pleading, manifestation or statement on record to indicate that said defendants were adopting the demurrer to evidence of Go Pok, contrary to what the Honorable Court stated,” they pointed out.

Likewise, the government team noted that several defendants still had not presented their evidence when the decision came out. These include Mrs Marcos, Raffy Chua, Wilson Chua, Guy Siu Lim and Vinnie James Yu.

“Clearly, the Honorable Court’s decision dismissing the case against the defendants who have not yet presented their respective evidence is not sanctioned by the Rules of Court,” the government said. “In sum, the procedural infirmities affecting the Court’s decision, coupled with the apparent denial of the Republic’s right to due process of law, render the same void.”

In addition, PCGG-OSG questioned why it was Martires who acted as ponente of the decision noting that he is already with the third division.

They said, previous issues relative to the case were resolved by regular members of the Second Division as early as October 16, 2009.

“…Beginning 2010, Justice Martires no longer took part in this case, especially resolving incidents. It is then a wonder why, the ponencia should be assigned to him and decision promulgated by a Special Second Division when the regular 2nd Division composed of Justice Diaz-Baldos, Justice Inoturan and Justice (Oscar) Herrera (Jr.) had long been resolving prior incidents and hearing the case,” the PCGG-OSG stressed. –



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