Sandiganbayan junks P1-B civil case vs Marcoses

Lian Buan
Sandiganbayan junks P1-B civil case vs Marcoses
The case is related to Bienvenido Tantoco, his family members, and former Tourist Duty Free Shops chairman Dominador Santiago who were allegedly used as dummies for the Marcoses to obtain P1 billion in ill-gotten wealth

MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has junked a P1-billion civil case against the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and wife Imelda, citing the lack of evidence presented by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).

“Plaintiff Republic failed to prove by preponderance of evidence that the defendants by themselves, or in conspiracy with defendants Marcoses, obtained ill-gotten wealth,” the Sadiganbayan 2nd Division unanimously ruled in a decision promulgated on September 25, a copy of which was released to media on Tuesday, October 8.

The decision was penned by Associate Justices Michael Frederick Musngi, Oscar Herrera, and Lorifel Lacap Pahimna.

This is the second civil suit against the Marcoses that the Sandiganbayan 2nd Division dismissed this year. In August, the same division dismissed a P102 billion case involving  crony Roberto Benedicto also because of insufficient evidence.

Imelda Marcos no longer has a criminal case before the anti-graft court.

Insufficient evidence

The PCGG alleged in Civil Case No. 0008 that Bienvenido Tantoco, an official in the Marcos administration “acquired assets, funds, and other property grossly and manifestly disproportionate to his salaries, lawful income and income from legitimately acquired property.”

The scheme allegedly used Tourist Duty Free Shops Incorporated (TDFS), and its “willing” chairman Dominador Santiago, so the group could secure favorable decrees from the Marcos government like exemption from taxes and privilege to have spaces in internatonal airports.

The Tantocos and Santiago were allegedly used as dummies of the Marcoses “for the benefit of the latter, personal assets such as expensive works of arts, clothes, and jewelry.”

The PCGG presented letters of the Tantocos to Ferdinand Marcos, asking for the favors.

The PCGG presented only a total of 4 witnesses. In 2006, the Sandiganbayan waived further evidence because of the PCGG lawyer’s “unjustified non-appearance.”

Some letters were struck off record for being photocopies.

The bulk of the documents contained letters discussing TDFS’ tax deficiencies.

“The Court finds that the foregoing exhibits are manifestly insufficient to prove the allegations in the complaint,” said the Sandiganbayan.

“These letters do not show that the defendants are dummies of the defendants Marcoses in its operations of the duty-free shops,” the court added.

With this, a total of 22 civil and forfeiture cases so far against Imelda have been dismissed, while at least 20 remain pending and one archived at the anti-graft court. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.