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Imelda Marcos guilty of 7 counts of graft; court orders her arrest

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan convicted Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Imelda Marcos of 7 counts of graft related to private organizations created in Switzerland while she was a government official from 1968 to 1986.

"Wherefore, premises considered, this Court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt...," said the 5th Division Clerk of Court while reading the verdict on Friday, November 9.

Neither Marcos nor any of her lawyers were present during the promulgation of decision.

The 89-year-old Marcos was sentenced to prison for 6 years and 1 month to 11 years for each case. She is also perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

By the end of the hearing, 5th Division Chairman Associate Justice Rafael Lagos also ordered the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Marcos.

But the Ombudsman lead prosecutor, as well as the 5th Division, clarified that because graft is a bailable case, she can have provisional liberty while she is appealing the conviction. Upon payment of bonds, the warrants of arrest will be lifted.

Lead prosecutor Rey Quilala said the ballpark figure of the public money involved in the private organizations amounts to US$200 million. 

"It involves 7 Swiss foundations, tapos kinu-close 'yung ibang foundation, ita-transfer sa ibang foundation, and then close it again, transfer sa ibang foundation, na-trace po yung flow ng pera," said Quilala.

(It involves 7 Swiss foundations, then they close the foundations, then they transfer it to another foundation, and then close it again, transfer to another foundation, so we traced the flow of the money.)

Marcos was acquitted for the remaining 3 counts involving local corporations based in the Philippines. The charges were filed way back 1991.

The 3 counts where she was acquitted involved foundations based in the Philippines.

"Sa local corporation kasi may isang corporation na gina-guarantee ng Pilipinas 'yung loan ng $25 million and then hindi na pinabayaran. Pilipinas ang nag-guarantee. 'Yung local corporations po 'yun," Quilala said.

(There was one local coporation which guaranteed a loan of $25 million, and they were not asked to pay. The Philippines guaranteed it. Those are for the local corporations.)

"Victory pa rin po ito (This is still a victory)," said Quilala.

The justices who decided the case are Associate Justices Rafael Lagos, Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.

The guilty verdict gives a clear picture of the “entrepreneurial” scheme of the former first family.

This is Marcos' 2nd Sandiganbayan conviction. In 1993, the Court's First Division convicted her of two counts of graft over anomalous contracts involving a lease between the Light Rail Transit Authority and the Philippine General Hospital Foundation, Inc. But in 1998, the Supreme Court acquitted her.

According to the latest list of the Sandiganbayan's docket section, there is no remaining criminal case against Marcos. She was charged for 28 criminal cases – the last 10 of which were the ones decided on Friday, where she was convicted of 7 counts, and acquitted of 3.

There remain, however, civil cases mainly involving forfeiture. Quilala was not able to immediately confirm if the money involved in the Swiss foundations is also being recovered by the government in those civil cases. – Rappler.com

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 lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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