Sandiganbayan dismisses P1 billion civil suit vs Marcoses, Tantocos

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 08 2019 10:48 AM | Updated as of Oct 08 2019 09:22 PM

Sandiganbayan dismisses P1 billion civil suit vs Marcoses, Tantocos 1
President Ferdinand Marcos and his family. Photo by Malacanang Photo Library

MANILA - (UPDATE) The Sandiganbayan 2nd Division has dismissed another case involving former President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda as well as Rustan’s Commercial Corporation founders Bienvenido Tantoco Sr. and Gliceria Tantoco, involving an estimated P1.052 billion ill-gotten wealth, for insufficient evidence.

Civil Case No. 008 filed in 1988 by the Presidential Commission on Good Government involves expensive works of art and jewelry, real estate properties in New York, duty-free shop franchises, tax-free importation benefits, corporations such as Rustan International Marketing, Eagle Mining Corporation, Rustan Pulp and Paper Factory.

The case also included properties in Hawaii in the United States, Rome, Italy and Forbes Park in Makati City in an expanded complaint against the defendants as well as other personal properties such as motor vehicles, cash on hand and in bank, notes, loans, and 3 Cessna aircraft.

“Evidently, plaintiff Republic failed to prove by preponderance of evidence that the defendants by themselves, or in conspiracy with defendants Marcoses obtained ill-gotten wealth,” the court said in the resolution promulgated on September 25, 2019.

The court noted that only 4 witnesses were presented before it waived further presentation of evidence in an order dated October 26, 2006 due to “unjustified non-appearance” of government lawyers.

Other pieces of evidence were denied admission because plaintiff failed to present them in the discovery proceedings despite the directives of the Sandiganbayan and the Supreme Court, while other exhibits were denied for being “mere photocopies.”

The court also stated that there was failure to establish the relevance of the admitted documents and testimonies from witnesses against the Marcoses and the Tantocos.

It was also not proven that Tantoco Sr. acquired assets, funds and other property grossly and manifestly disproportionate to his salaries, lawful income, and income when he served as a public officer during the Marcos administration.

“There is likewise insufficient evidence to prove that the defendants acted as dummies, nominees, and/or agents of defendants Marcoses in acquiring works of art, clothes, jewelry, or real estate worth billions of pesos” the court said.

The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Oscar Herrera, Jr. and Association Justice Lorifel Pahimna.

The dismissal of Civil Case No. 008 follows the dismissal of P102 billion forfeiture case against the Marcoses, also by the 2nd Division, last August.

The case’s dismissal marks yet another victory for the Marcos family, which for years has been attempting to rehabilitate its image following decades of vilification since the fall of the late dictator.

“Ang sa akin na lamang eh talagang nagpapasalamat tayo talagang sa haba ng panahon at sa dami ng kaso ay wala naman palang ebidensya so after all these years, it took what 30 plus years to prove our innocence,” Sen. Imee Marcos, the late dictator’s daughter, told reporters.

(We are thankful that after such a long time and amid the slew of cases, the court found no sufficient evidence against us. It took us 30 years to prove our innocence.)

Marcos’ only son and namesake, former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is also seeking to nab the vice-presidency in an electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.

A favorable ruling from the high court on his petition, observers say, would also put him in a position to seek the presidency when President Rodrigo Duterte steps down in 2022. - with Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News