Decision on 26-year-old graft cases vs Imelda delayed anew

Decision on 26-year-old graft cases vs Imelda delayed anew

Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, first lady to ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos, at the House of Representatives session hall in July. Rosette Adel, file
MANILA, Philippines — The trial of the 26-year-old graft cases against Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, former first lady, ended in January but the Sandiganbayan cannot rule on the cases yet.
 
In a motion filed before the anti-graft court's Fifth Division early last month, the Office of the Ombudsman's prosecution panel asked for 30 more days to submit its memorandum, which must contain its allegations against Marcos, the description of each of the documentary evidence it presented, as well as the summary of the testimonies of its witnesses.
 
The prosecution team cited “the sheer volume of the documentary evidence and the lengthy transcripts of stenographic notes” of the hearings that they need to review and summarize.
 
The prosecution further said two of their lawyers handling the cases also attended a five-day workshop as well as hearings in the provinces.
 
The Fifth Division granted the request and gave the prosecution until August 4 to submit its memorandum, but a day before the deadline lapsed, the prosecution filed a second motion for extension.
 
In its new motion, the prosecution asked the court to give them until August 26 to file the memorandum, the same deadline that the court has given Marcos' camp, after it also asked for a 30-day extension on July 25.
 
Under the Rules of Court, a case can only be deemed submitted for resolution after the parties have submitted their respective memoranda.
 
The court granted the prosecution's second motion, but warned that should it fail to comply with the new deadline, it will rule on cases with or without its memorandum.
 
It was only in 2015 when the prosecution finished its presentation of evidence against Marcos, 24 years after the cases were filed in 1991.
 
The presentation of evidence of the defense, meanwhile, was prematurely terminated last February after Marcos lawyer Robert Sison failed to attend two consecutive hearings, where he was supposed to present his client's last documentary evidence.
 
The evidence was supposed to include testimony from the late Manila Regional Trial Court judge Cesario del Rosario, who originally handled the cases.
 
Sison complied with the court's ruling, waiving Marcos' right to submit additional evidence.
 
Sison made a formal offer of evidence for his client on March 7, which the court admitted in full amid opposition from the prosecution. The evidence that the defense offered included the transcript of the trial of the Manila RTC.
 
Filed by the ombudsman in December 1991, the ten counts of graft against Marcos stemmed from her alleged creation of several private foundations in Switzerland and holding of financial interests in various private enterprises from 1978 and 1984 while she was a member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa.
 
The ombudsman said Marcos violated Section 3 (h) of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits public officials having financial or pecuniary interests in any business, contract or transaction in which he or she has the official capacity to intervene.
 
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) had earlier identified a total of $658 million deposits in the conjugal Swiss dollar accounts of Mrs. Marcos and her husband, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
 
The graft cases, are apart from the civil forfeiture cases that the PCGG filed before the Sandiganbayan in 1987 which seek to recover an estimated $10 billion in alleged ill-gotten of the Marcoses and their cronies, including paintings and jewelry collections and shares in various corporations.