Marcos ill-gotten wealth

Sandiganbayan junks again Marcoses’ plea to retake forfeited assets

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Sandiganbayan junks again Marcoses’ plea to retake forfeited assets

ANTI-GRAFT COURT. The Sandiganbayan in Quezon City, June 30, 2018.

Darren Langit/Rappler

The anti-graft court reiterates the forfeited assets and properties turned over to the government are now beyond dispute

MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan, the country’s anti-graft court, denied former first lady Imelda Marcos and her daughter Irene Marcos-Araneta’s request to reacquire their forfeited ill-gotten wealth.

In a 15-page resolution dated May 4, 2023, Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division denied the Marcoses’ motion for reconsideration that sought to reverse the court’s January 25, 2023, ruling barring Imelda and Irene from reviving their claims to the said assets.

“The court denies the instant motion for lack of merit. The Court thus maintains its earlier pronouncement in the resolution dated 25 January 2023,” the Sandiganbayan said.

Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi penned the resolution, while associate justices Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac concurred.

In their plea, the Marcoses sought to reacquire billions of assets considered ill-gotten wealth and forfeited, and those surrendered by cronies in exchange for legal immunity.

Imelda and Irene argued that the anti-graft court should order the return of their frozen accounts, including properties surrendered to the government and those covered by writs of execution. This also included properties within and not within the Presidential Commission on Good Government’s (PCGG) jurisdiction.

The mother and daughter accused the PCGG of neglecting its mandate to preserve the Marcoses’ assets, adding that the properties would continue to depreciate unless they were returned to their owners. However, the Sandiganbayan again stood its ground and said the forfeited ill-gotten wealth and properties turned over to the government were now beyond dispute.

Although the government’s Third Amended Complaint in Civil Case No. 0002 was junked in December 2019, most of the properties in the case were also subject in other cases already won by the government, the Sandiganbayan said. The court added the Marcos family also lost their appeals in the said cases.

Meanwhile, the Sandiganbayan also mentioned previous cases where the Supreme Court affirmed the PCGG’s authority to enter into agreements with parties to grant immunity.

“In those cases, the Supreme Court had already upheld the validity of the compromise agreements executed by the parties involving the recovery of certain properties and the authority of the PCGG to enter into such agreements,” the anti-graft court pointed out.

“With the above pronouncements by no less than the Highest Court, the contention that the subject properties were dissipated while under the PCGG administration has no leg to stand on,” the court added.

Even when Civil Case No. 0002 was still pending, many of the properties involved were already being transferred to the government through compromise agreements, the court added.

“The transfer of properties included in the Third Amended Complaint have long been approved, accorded respect, and sustained. Thus, they have the force of res judicata between the parties and should be complied with in accordance with its terms,” the Sandiganbayan said. –

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