MANILA, Philippines – Ending an over three decade-old constitutional issue, the Sandiganbayan dismissed a petition questioning the creation of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) because ensuing events since this was filed in 1986 has rendered it “moot and academic.”
It was the late businessman Roberto Benedicto, a former law school classmate of the deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who filed the petition on July 1, 1986 before the Supreme Court.
Benedicto’s petition for certiorari and prohibition sought the nullification of the Executive Orders issued by then President Corazon Aquino for being unconstitutional. Aquino’s EO Nos 1, 2, 11, and 14 created the PCGG and mandated it to recover the “ill-gotten wealth accumulated by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates, and close associates, whether in the Philippines or abroad.”
The anti-graft court’s Second Division said in its resolution last March 22 that Benedicto’s petition docketed as Civil Case No. 0072 “has become moot and academic. Wherefore, premises considered, this case is hereby dismissed.” The anti-graft court said any adjudication “would be of no practical value or use.”
Among the events noted by Sandiganbayan was a compromise agreement between Benedicto and PCGG. No less than the Supreme Court affirmed the compromise deal. This agreement became final with an entry of judgment on December 22, 1993.
What prompted Benedicto to file a petition in 1986 was when the PCGG created a board of administrators to take over management and operation of his media companies including Banahaw Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Radio Philippine Network (RPN), and International Broadcasting Corporation (IBC).
Though Benedicto originally filed the petition for certiorari and prohibition before the Supreme Court on July 1, 1986, this was remanded to the Sandiganbayan for proper disposition on April 18, 1989.
However, the case never went to trial as Benedicto and the PCGG agreed to a compromise.
He agreed to turn over to the government several properties. In return, the state would lift its sequestration of his assets excluded from the list he proffered, and grant absolute immunity to him, members of his family, and officers and employees of his corporations. It was a sweeping immunity as this included “past, present, and future cases and investigations” of the government.
Here is a list released by the PCGG of some of the assets Benedicto turned over to the government in the compromise agreement:
- IBC including rights over its franchise, land, relay stations, and provincial and radio stations all worth P3.074 billion;
- 3 parcels of land in Bataan in the name of Piedras Petroleum Corporation with a combined value of P70.016 million;
- 6,000 square-meter lot from BBC–Iligan City (P17.83 million);
- 2 lots with a combined area of 5,161 sqm from BBC-Legazpi City (P22.19 million);
- 5,952 square meter lot from BBC-Naga City (P19.046 million);
- BBC-DWAN Radio (P1.362 million);
- 12,445 shares in Oceanic Wireless Network Inc. (OWNI) (P13.63 million); and 4.16 million shares in Radio RPN-9 (P33.29 million); and
- all his rights, interest and/or participations, if any, in RPN which operated TV-9, its seven provincial TV stations and seven provincial radio stations, as well as the BBC.