Imelda Marcos posts P300,000-bail to enjoy freedom post-conviction

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Graft convict Imelda Marcos posted on Wednesday, December 5, her P300,000 bail to enjoy temporary freedom post-conviction.

Only a lawyer posted bail on Wednesday as Marcos was not required to personally appear before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan. The Fifth Division said her appearance during the last hearing, where she was also asked to pay a separate P150,000 bail, is sufficient.

Marcos also paid P4,700 in legal fees.

The 89-year-old Marcos was convicted of 7 counts of graft for illegally creating and maintaining Swiss foundations for the "private benefit" of the former first family.

Rules on bail

Bail is generally a matter of right, except for some cases when bail becomes discretionary. For Marcos, she enjoyed freedom while on trial because graft is among the bailable cases.

Bail became discretionary once again upon Marcos’ conviction. 

Under Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court, bail can be granted to a convicted person while he or she is appealing the decision subject to some standards like being a flight risk, delinquency and undue risk to commit another crime.

The Sandiganbayan said the Ombudsman prosecutors were not able to prove that Marcos fit any of those descriptions.

The Sandiganbayan also applied the Supreme Court doctrine on Juan Ponce Enrile, which considered old age and state of health as humanitarian reasons to grant bail.

Under Section 6, Rule 120, of the Rules of Court, the convicted person loses remedies such as bail if he or she was absent during promulgation without a justifiable cause.

Ombudsman prosecutors opposed the bail because Marcos cited two conflicting reasons for her absence. Her lawyer told the court she was suffering from 7 ailments. According to an affidavit submitted by Marcos herself to the court, however, she simply did not know the schedule.

When she personally appeared before the court, Marcos said she would have attended her promulgation had she known about the court schedule.

“Such statements invite leniency on the part of the Court, considering that in the process, Ms Marcos surrendered and placed herself within the reach and arm of the law," the court said.

Defending the decision, Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang said the 5th Civision was only doing what was proper. Tang is not a part of the 5th Division.

"I don’t believe that there has been preferential treatment that was accorded Mrs Marcos. I believe the members of the 5th Division merely exercised what is proper under the circumstance," Tang said on Wednesday, when she was asked about the issue during the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) interviews. She is applying for the next vacancy at the Supreme Court. 

Marcos would be sent to jail if the conviction is upheld after the appeal period. Marcos had filed a notice of appeal to go straight to the Supreme Court, skipping the usual process of filing a Motion for Reconsideration (MR) before the Sandiganbayan.

Newly-appointed Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin has reported ties to veteran litigator Estelito Mendoza, a Marcos-time solicitor general who has recently been lawyering for Marcos’ children, Ferdinand Jr and Imee. – 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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