MANILA -- The Sandiganbayan 3rd Division has decided to disregard its earlier decision ordering the heirs of former Marcos associates Jose Africa and Manuel Nieto, Jr. to pay the government P1 million in exemplary damages.
In its decision last year on Civil Case No. 0009, the anti-graft court ordered the return of millions of pesos in ill-gotten shares of Africa and Nieto, Jr. in Eastern Telecommunications Philippines Inc. as well as the payment of the P1 million exemplary damages.
But after the heirs filed their motion for reconsideration, the court found that the government has not established its claim for actual, temperate, nominal, moral damages and attorney’s fees, which means that the award of exemplary damages has not been complied with.
The court noted that the New Civil Code provides that exemplary or corrective damages, by way of example or correction for the public good, are imposed in addition to moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages.
“Upon a careful review of the facts of the cases and the relevant jurisprudence, the Court finds that there is no basis for the award of exemplary damages in favor of the Republic,” the court said in the decision penned by Presiding Justice and Division Chairperson Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Bernelito Fernandez and Sarah Jane Fernandez.
The court also also denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the government seeking the reversal of the dismissal of the case against defendants Juan Ponce Enrile, Imelda Marcos and Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., JAKA, Oceanic Wireless Network, Inc.
In the 2019 decision, the court dismissed the cases against defendants Enrile, Ferdinand, Jr. and Imelda for failure of the government to establish “preponderance of evidence against them.”
The government stressed in their appeal that the complaint has sufficiently alleged conspiracy between and among the defendants.
“In sum, except for the deletion of the award of exemplary damages in favor of the Republic, neither the Republic nor defendants substituted heirs of Jose L. Africa has presented any new or valid argument/s to warrant the reversal of the Court's Decision promulgated on December 4, 2019,” the court said.