MANILA — Despite being granted another opportunity to present evidence in an ill-gotten wealth case before the Sandiganbayan, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. will present no new witnesses and will instead adopt the evidence already submitted in court by his co-defendants.
At a pre-trial hearing before the anti-graft court’s 2nd Division on Friday, Marcos Jr.’s lawyer Manuel Plaza III manifested in open court that his client would adopt the testimony of the witnesses of the heirs of the Enriquez and Panlilio families in Civil Case No. 0014.
Civil Case No. 0014 involves the recovery of alleged ill-gotten wealth which the Marcoses supposedly acquired through the improper use of funds or properties owned by the government.
The Panlilios allegedly acted as dummies for the Marcoses in acquiring control of several companies.
They and other Marcos business associates also allegedly devised means to take advantage of their closeness to the Marcoses to enrich themselves at the expense of the Philippine government.
Defendants include Modesto Enriquez, Trinidad Diaz Enriquez, Rebecco Panlilio, Erlinda Enriquez-Panlilio, Leandro Enriquez, Roman Cruz, Jr. and Gregorio Castillo.
The heirs of Enriquez and Panlilio have so far presented 3 defense witnesses — lawyer Fatima Ann Isla, Janina Bacsal, and Ma. Concepcion Ezpeleta-Torralba from October 2020 to May 2021.
The details of their testimonies were not immediately available as these took place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when mobility and court capacity restrictions were in place.
On Thursday, Marcos Jr. also pre-marked 8 documents but which have all been identified and presented in court.
Plaza did not grant an interview to the media and did not explain why the President would no longer present new witnesses and documents.
During the July 7 hearing, he initially asked for a 60-day extension to prepare their evidence because his office’s records were supposedly “incomplete” but Division Chairperson Oscar Herrera found the period to be too long.
Marcos Jr., as one of the heirs of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., substituted his father as defendant in the case after his father’s death in 1989.
The case was filed in 1987 with Marcos Sr. and wife Imelda Marcos as original defendants.
The anti-graft court, in April 1989, declared both of them in default because of failure to file their answer but Imelda was able to challenge the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court in 1994.
The Marcos heirs, as substitute for Marcos Sr., only filed a motion to set aside the default order in October 1996, which the Sandiganbayan granted in June this year.
The same June 2022 ruling denied the Office of the Solicitor General’s move to declare Marcos Jr., his mother Imelda, sisters Imee and Irene, as well as defendants Isaiah Pavia Cruz and Don Ferry, to have waived their right to present their evidence after they failed to appear before the court on Aug. 13, 2019.
The anti-graft court cited the “higher interest of substantial justice” in giving the Marcos heirs another chance to present their side.
However, the pre-trial on Friday could not be completed because Plaza had yet to present a special power of attorney to prove that he was authorized by Marcos Jr. to adopt the evidence of his co-defendants.
The OSG also manifested they would file a motion to declare the other Marcos heirs to have waived their right to present evidence.
The other Marcos heirs were not represented in Friday’s hearing.
The OSG had previously manifested that the pre-trial would only involve Marcos Jr.
The next pre-trial hearing is set on Wednesday, Aug. 10.