Sandiganbayan denies PCGG appeal over Batangas beachfront property
MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court denied the appeal of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) against an order to reimburse the occupant of a contested property in Mabini, Batangas, P40 million even if the court declared it belonged to the government.
The property is part of the ill-gotten wealth case filed by the government via the PCGG against Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez, brother of former first lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos and brother-in-law of former president Ferdinand Marcos.
In an 11-page resolution dated August 20, 2019, the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division said the government's motion for reconsideration "has not raised any substantial argument" why the ruling "should be reversed or even modified.”
Aside from declaring the Republic of the Philippines and the Philippine Journalist Inc (PJI) as the legal owners of the 7,087-square-meter beachfront property, the Sandiganbayan also ruled in April that:
- Defendant Ramon Quisumbing is not entitled to a refund of the amount he paid for the property in 1991, as well as the interest.
- Former PJI president Jaime Cura and board members Johnny Araneta, Angel Sepidoza, and Renato Paras must pay P500,000 actual and compensatory damages for their gross negligence when they sold the land to a resort developer in June 1991 for P700,000.
But the anti-graft court also ruled that the government must pay Quisumbing P40 million – the equivalent value of improvements made on the property.
The PCGG challenged this, saying Quisumbing cannot be considered a "builder in good faith" because he bought the property without looking into its status.
The PCGG also questioned the improvements made on the property, saying there is lack of evidence to show when construction happened and whether the value of the improvements really amount to P40 million.
The court insisted the P40 million value was arrived at "after a careful and thorough evaluation of the evidence on record." – Rappler.com