MANILA - Former First Lady Imelda Marcos, who was found guilty of graft, cannot be granted pardon because of an appeal her camp said it would file, Senator Francis Escudero said Tuesday.
The Sandiganbayan 5th Division found Marcos, the incumbent representative of Ilocos Norte, guilty in 7 counts of graft for using her Cabinet position to maintain Swiss bank accounts during the regime of her husband, late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The anti-graft court ordered for the issuance of arrest warrants against Marcos, who was sentenced to imprisonment of 6 years and 1 month to 11 years for each of the 7 counts, with perpetual disqualification from public office.
Concerns were raised that President Rodrigo Duterte might grant pardon to the 89-year-old lawmaker, but a spokesman said such an issue was "not only speculative but premature as well."
Escudero, who ran against the late strongman's only son in the 2016 vice presidential race, said anyone who has a pending appeal cannot benefit from pardon, commutation, or parole.
"The case has to be finally decided and the conviction has to be final before the possibility of such pardon, parole, or commutation would even be open for consideration," he told ANC's Headstart.
Like in the case of Sen. Antonio Trillanes, whose amnesty was revoked by Duterte, "there has to be an admission of guilt" in Marcos' case before she can be granted pardon, said Escudero.
"By withdrawing your appeal, you’re embracing the conviction against you. You’re not questioning it anymore," he said.
"Are they willing to do that and will they actually do that? Some people simply want the case to drag on and let whomsoever simply live it out during his/her lifetime," he added.
The civil cases against the Marcos family which aims to recover their ill-gotten wealth "will continue to subsist in spite and despite of any pardon or commutation that may be given to them after they withdraw the appeal," said Escudero.
"They have denied in the past 30 years or so any such allegation and this would run counter of those claims from that, that indeed these allegations are simply politically motivated," he said.
The Marcos family’s ill-gotten wealth “is estimated between US$5 billion to US$10 billion, the bulk of it being deposited and hidden abroad,” according to the Philippine Commission on Good Government (PCGG).
The government has recovered a total of P170 billion in the past 30 years.