Marcos ill-gotten wealth

SC upholds junking of P1.05-B Marcos ill-gotten wealth case

Jairo Bolledo

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SC upholds junking of P1.05-B Marcos ill-gotten wealth case

COURT OF LAST RESORT. The Supreme Court building in Padre Faura, Manila.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

The SC adds that it is not a trier of facts, but even if it was, the anti-graft court's assessment of the sufficiency of evidence presented 'would still deserve the Court's respect'

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court’s First Division (SC) affirmed the Sandiganbayan’s decision, which dismissed one of the ill-gotten wealth cases against late tyrant Ferdinand Marcos, his wife Imelda, and their alleged cronies, amounting to P1.05 billion.

“The decision dated September 25, 2019 of the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case No. 0008, dismissing the Expanded Complaint against respondents Bienvenido R. Tantoco, Jr., Dominador R. Santiago, Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos, Bienvenido R. Tantoco, Sr., Gliceria R. Tantoco, and Maria Lourdes Tantoco-Pineda for insufficiency of evidence, and the resolution dated November 20, 2019, denying reconsideration thereof, are AFFIRMED in toto,” the SC decision dated March 29, 2023 read.

Associate Justice Ricardo Rosario penned the ruling, while Associate Justices Ramon Paul Hernando (acting chairperson), Rodil Zalameda, Japar Dimaampao, and Jose Midas Marquez concurred in the decision.

In its decision, the High Court said the petition has no merit and the anti-graft court (Sandiganbayan) did not commit any reversible error when it dismissed the complaint due to lack of evidence. The SC said that although it may be true that the state submitted “numerous pieces of evidence,” many were disregarded because they were not disclosed during the proceedings’ discovery process.

During the said process, a party usually provides or presents the other party documents relevant to the case.

“Comparing the allegations of the Expanded Complaint and plaintiff’s evidence, the Sandiganbayan concluded that the testimony of four witnesses, supported by eleven documentary exhibits, were insufficient to prove plaintiff’s allegations and some of its exhibits were even irrelevant to the issues presented,” the High Tribunal explained.

The SC added that it is not a trier of facts, but even if it was, the anti-graft court’s assessment of the sufficiency of evidence presented “would still deserve the Court’s respect.”

What happened before

The SC case stemmed from a petition for review on certiorari – a remedy used to seek a review of a decision of another court – filed with the High Court.

The petition challenged the September 25, 2019 decision of the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case No. 0008 that dismissed the expanded complaint against Marcos and his companions for insufficiency of evidence, including the motion for reconsideration that the Sandiganbayan also denied.

Through the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the state filed a complaint for reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution, and damages against the respondents on July 21, 1987. The complaint sought to forfeit all the respondents’ properties “alleged to have been illegally gotten and accumulated during the incumbency of former president Marcos.”

In filing the complaint, the PCGG and the state alleged that the late dictator “unlawfully withdrew” money from the national treasury, the central bank, and other financial institutions of the country. And then, Marcos caused the transfer of the said money to various payees “with the intention of accumulating ill-gotten wealth.”

The other respondents, meanwhile, were said to have collaborated with the former president to “appropriate and conceal” the assets illegally acquired by Marcos. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.