PCGG-OSG wants to split Marcos wealth case into 5 sub-trials

MANILA, Philippines – The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) asked the Sandiganbayan for permission to split a forfeiture case against the Marcoses and their associates into 5 separate trials.

The subdivision of Civil Case No. 0035 comes from a 16-page motion filed with the Fifth Division. PCGG commissioner Vicente L. Gengos Jr., PCGG counsel Renato B. Licauco, assistant solicitors general John Emmanuel F. Madamba and Marissa Macaraig-Guillen, and state solicitors Catherine Joy R. Mallari-Romaquin and Jennifer F. Fandialan-Legaspi, said the case has been bogged down in the 29 years it's been in court.

The group cites an “evident procedural impasse” due to the number of transactions and respondents who are part of the proceedings, including the Marcos and Romualdez families.

The group added that the defendants have a number of procedural challenges at the Sandiganbayan and the Supreme Court that have caused the case to be bogged down.

The PCGG persists, however, in its determination to follow through with its mandate to recover the ill-gotten wealth attributed to the Marcoses and their associates. “(T)o expedite the present proceedings, plaintiff (Republic of the Philippines) respectfully begs leave to conduct separate trials on the specific assets/properties and averments peculiar to each set of defendants,” the PCGG-OSG said.

Last February 15, the government also asked the Sandiganbayan the declare the heirs of Ferdinand Marcos, former First Lady now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, spouses Benjamin and Juliet Romualdez, and 17 other defendants in default for failing to answer the complaint.

Being declared in default means a party to a case will no longer be allowed to present its evidence since it is considered to have waived its rights to contest the allegations in the complaint.

The PCGG said Civil Case No. 0035 still involves government claims of shares of stocks in mining, media, and financial firms valued at P164.405 million, as well as real properties worth P10.34 billion. The State is also seeking damages totaling P50 billion and P1 billion in legal expense reimbursements.

According to the motion, 8 principal defendants will be covered by the presentation of evidence even if the case is split into 5 separate trials. They are the Marcos couple, spouses Benjamin and Juliet Romualdez, spouses Edon and Conchita Yap, and former Commission on Audit chairman Francisco Tantuico.

The petition of forfeiture stated there were also secondary defendants who served as dummies or agents to help the principal defendants and themselves to acquire ill-gotten wealth through various fraudulent transactions.

The first sub-trial relates to the illegal takeover and monopoly of electricity distribution in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. This lists former provincial governors Isidro Rodriguez of Rizal and Juanito Remulla of Cavite, as well as former executives of Meralco Securities Corp. and First Philippine Holdings Corp, as co-defendants.

The second involves the “unlawful takeover and acquisition of the properties and assets of the Manila Chronicle and other media outlets using public funds of the Philippine Journalists Inc. (PJI)” and would include former officials of PJI, Universal Broadcasting Corp, Palm Avenue Realty, and Palm Avenue Holdings Inc.

The third concerns the “unlawful acquisition of the shares of stock, control of, and transfer of the shares of Philippine Commercial International Bank (PCI-Bank) and Mantrasco." The respondents here would include officials of the First Manila Management Corp. and PNI Holdings.

The fourth deals with the “unlawful acquisition of the shares of stock, control of, and transfer of the shares of Benguet Corporation” and will include former executives of Meralco, Family Bank and Trust Company, PJI, Palm Avenue Realty, and Palm Avenue Holdings Inc.

The fifth sub-trial, meanwhile, will deal with the rest of the “illegal/prohibited acquisitions and misappropriation of public funds” and is said to include former officials of the Philippine National Bank, Philippine Petroleum Corp., and International Corporate Bank.

The PCGG-OSG also asked the court within the same motion to set the pre-trial date of all 5 separate trials within 60 days upon the resolution of the motion to declare the defendants in default. – Rappler.com