Partial judgment sought on coco levy case vs Marcoses

By Michael Punongbayan, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 06 2014 02:52 AM | Updated as of Mar 06 2014 10:52 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The government has asked the Sandiganbayan to render partial summary judgment in a 1997 civil case against the late President Ferdinand Marcos and former first lady Imelda Marcos on one of eight subdivided coco levy fund cases seeking to recover P958.8 million.

In a motion, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) said a partial ruling may be issued so the state and coconut farmers can finally have the money returned.

“The government in general and the coconut farmers in particular have long been deprived of the coconut levy funds through various schemes... aided by several tailor-fit decrees issued by the late dictator to legalize the private taking of an otherwise government fund,” read the motion.

Assistant Solicitor General Thomas Laragan and State Solicitor II Sonny Von Ruaya said: “It is not too late to return the coconut levy funds...”

Also named as defendants in the civil case are businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr., Agricultural Investors Inc. (AII), Enrique Cojuangco, Marcos Cojuangco, Rafael Abello, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and the late former Zamboanga City mayor Maria Clara Lobregat.

Objecting to the OSG’s motion, Cojuangco questioned whether the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the case because the complaint does not directly involve recovery of supposed ill-gotten wealth, but a challenge to the validity of an arbitration proceeding.

The defendants in the particular civil case conspired to defraud the government in the amount of P426 million invested in the supposed project of AII to produce hybrid coconut seedlings in Bugsuk Island, Palawan, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) said.