Marcos ill-gotten wealth

Sandiganbayan bars Marcoses from retaking forfeited assets
Sandiganbayan bars Marcoses from retaking forfeited assets
Since the Sandiganbayan has decided with finality, the Marcos family cannot bring to court the issue of ownership

MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan, the country’s anti-graft court, barred the Marcos family from retaking their assets that were already declared part of their ill-gotten wealth.

In a 40-page resolution dated January 25, the court’s Third Division said the family of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. cannot regain control of all the forfeited wealth, including companies and land holdings, earlier surrendered in favor of the government.

“The Court dismissed the Third Amended Complaint with respect to the properties that ‘have already been recovered by the government or transferred to third persons not involved herein’, or those which have been the subject of court decisions and compromise agreements as the same were barred by res judicata …[based on] conclusiveness of judgment and mootness. Thus, the Court can no longer rule on the said properties,” the anti-graft court ruled.

The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Michael Frederick L. Musngi, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Maria Thesesa V. Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann E. Corpus-Mañalac. Since the Sandiganbayan has decide with finality, the Marcos family cannot bring to the court the issue of ownership.

The Sandiganbayan’s ruling stemmed from the petitions filed by former first lady Imelda Marcos, wife of the late dictator, and daughter Irene Marcos-Araneta. The ruling denied the prayer for the issuance of a writ of execution in the Omnibus Motion dated August 10, 2022 and a Supplement dated August 17, 2022.

Gov’t vs Marcoses

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), the government’s primary legal counsel, assailed the Marcos family’s motion, citing the pending Petition for Review of Certiorari filed on August 10, 2022. The OSG also invoked the Supreme Court’s pronouncement in 2012, which affirmed the finding that the evidence collected established a prima facie presumption that the properties were ill-gotten.

Prima facie means “based on first impression” and that the legal claim used has sufficient evidence upon initial examination.

The OSG also assailed the evidence submitted by the Marcos family. According to the OSG, the documents attached to Constante Rubio’s testimony, among the defendants, were photocopies and cannot be used as evidence. The government also insisted that the Marcos family’s lawful income is only $304,372.43.

In their petition, Imelda and Irene asked for the issuance of a writ of execution. They classified their assets into four categories: frozen accounts, assets surrendered by virtue of compromise deals, assets seized by the state, but not under the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), and those sequestered but remain under the PCGG.

They based their petition on the Sandiganbayan’s 2019 ruling that dismissed a civil case against the Marcos family after the government lawyers failed to prove that the remaining assets were part of the ill-gotten wealth.

Imelda and Irene also asked the court to declare the three other classifications of their properties as not ill-gotten. These include: properties listed as not sequestered, released from sequestration, and those included in cases dismissed by final judgment.

They added they have a “good and valid reason” to seek execution of the decision, adding that they “suffered greatly mentally and emotionally” during that period. Mother and daughter also claimed the dissipation of the seized properties caused them “unjust and unreasonable deprivation of their proprietary rights.”

The ruling

The anti-graft court sided with the OSG and said the motion for the issuance of a writ of execution should be denied for lack of merit. The Sandiganbayan said the judgment has yet to be finalized because of the OSG’s pending petition for review on certiorari before the Supreme Court.

“The same does not constitute the good reason contemplated by the Rules of Court that would rationalize the granting of their Omnibus Motion. The defendants (Marcoses) also offered no proof or reason how the properties subject of this case are being dissipated.”

To avoid confusion, the anti-graft court said the properties “already recovered, transferred to third persons not included in the case, or become the subject of court Decisions and compromise agreements” are already moot and academic.

The resolution also listed the following shares and properties “beyond the reach” of the Marcos family:

  • Stocks in Marcopper Mining uder the IRC Group of Companies (ceded to the PCGG)
  • 526 pieces of art collections (under Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas)
  • 111,415 PLDT shares sold in 2006 for P25.2 billion
  • Independent Realty Corporation’s 30% stake in Philippine Integrated Meat Corp sold for 100 million in 2019
  • Marcoses’ P934.915 million and $8.002 million deposits at Security Bank and Trust Company
  • Several real properties in Baguio City (JY Campos lot, Banaue Inn, Hans Menzi Compound, and Fairchild Compound)
  • A parcel of land in Mariveles, Bataan sold for P144 million in 2000
  • Properties released from sequestration after a compromise deal with former Ambassador Roberto Benedicto (including Celebrity Sports Plaza, Hacienda Cambio, Hacienda Casmisana, Hacienda Colisap Hacienda Consuelo, Hacienda de Fuedo, Hacienda Lonoy, Hacienda Nahalin, and Hacienda Sivellana-Binubuhan in Negros Occidental)
  • Media outfits surrendered to the government: RPN, Banahaw Broadcasting Corp, IBC TV, and radio stations all located at the Broadcast City in Diliman, Quezon City.
  • 46,626 shares in Manila Bulletin in the name of the late businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. declared as ill-gotten wealth in 2002
  • P55 million in cash deposited in a Philippine National Bank Trust Account
  • The Coconut Palace
  • Condominium units at Legaspi Towers
  • An RP-C 28 Islander aircraft

Meanwhile, the following properties remain under the Marcos family’s control:

  • Currimao Beach House in Ilocos Norte
  • Olot Rest House in Leyte
  • House and lot in Pandacan, Manila
  • Batac Museum
  • Batac Guest House

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