Anti-graft court allows gov’t to appeal dismissed P102-billion Marcos forfeiture case

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 12 2019 05:29 PM | Updated as of Nov 12 2019 05:30 PM

MANILA - The Sandiganbayan on Tuesday granted government's appeal to reconsider the dismissal of the P102-billion civil forfeiture case against former President Ferdinand Marcos, his widow Imelda and 11 others.

In a resolution promulgated on Nov. 6, the anti-graft court noted that the first motion for reconsideration filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) did not indicate a notice of hearing, which is a violation of the Rules of Court.

The court, however, stated in its resolution that allowing government to file an appeal would not impinge on the right of the defendants.

“Although the inadvertence of the plaintiff's counsel is not a compelling or sufficient reason to relax the rule, the Court is of the view that the defendants' right to due process will not be impinged [upon] should the Court act on the earlier motion as they will still be given an opportunity to study and meet the arguments therein for full review and appreciation by the Court,” the resolution read.

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

The case, docketed as Civil Case No. 0034, stemmed from the alleged grant of excessive loans to companies owned by the late former Philippine Ambassador to Japan Roberto Benedicto.

The court dismissed the case after government reportedly failed to present evidence to prove that the Marcoses committed the following:

  •  Participated in extending loan accommodation to Aklan Bulk Carriers Inc., Fuga Bulk Carriers Inc., Coron Bulk Carriers Inc., and Ecija Bulk Carriers Inc;
  •  Appropriated for their own benefit and unjust enrichment income revenues derived from the operations of RPN-9, IBC-13 and BBC-2;
  •  Allowed the other defendants to hold and launder purloined funds for and in their behalf prior to remittance and credit to their overseas or foreign accounts;
  •  Participated in the establishment of the California Overseas Bank

“It saddens the Court that it took more than 30 years before this case is submitted for decision and yet, the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence to sustain any of the causes of action against the remaining defendants," Sandiganbayan said in its ruling last August.

In the motion of the OSG, they requested for a relaxation of rules in the interest of justice.

“Considering that the present action is an ill-gotten wealth case involving a significant amount of public funds, the justice to the Republic is not commensurate with the degree of its counsel’s mistake in inadvertently failing to comply with the prescribed procedure,” the court noted in the resolution.

With the granting of the motion, the defendants were given 10 days from receipt of the resolution within which to file their comment or opposition.