Cases vs Marcoses, cronies remain pending at Sandigan since late '80s
Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jnr (2nd L), former senator and son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, his sister Imee (2nd R) and their mother, former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos(R), listen to the national anthem during a wreath-laying ceremony at a monument to the late dictator during celebrations to mark his 100th birthday in Batac, Ilocos Norte province, north of Manila on September 10, 2017. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on September 10 hailed late dictator Ferdinand Marcos as a "hero" to many Filipinos, brushing aside a history of corruption and rights abuses under the former strongman. September 11, 2017 marks what would have been the late dictator's 100th birthday. Noel Celis/AFP
MANILA, Philippines — More than a dozen criminal and civil forfeiture cases filed by the government against the Marcos family remain pending before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan 30 years since their filing in the late '80s.
Based on the data obtained by the STAR from the Sandiganbayan Judicial Records Division, 16 civil cases were filed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government in 1986, 1987 and 1991 against the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, his wife, former First Lady and incumbent Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos and several of their cronies.
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The civil cases seek the return of ill-gotten wealth allegedly amassed by the Marcos family and their cronies during the Martial Law regime.
The Sandiganbayan records show that nine of these cases have already been dismissed in favor of the Marcos family, while seven cases remain pending.
Among the cases dismissed were the forfeiture of the assets of several companies owned by tycoon Lucio Tan, including the Fortune Tobacco Corp., Asia Brewery, Allied Banking Corp., Foremost Farms, Himmel Industries, Grandspan Development Corp., Silangan Holdings, Dominium Realty and Construction Corp., and Shareholdings Inc.
The PCGG sought the transfer the assets of these companies to the government as they were allegedly acquired through illegal means during Marcos' presidency. The court dismissed the case due to “insufficiency of evidence.”
Also dismissed was the P11-billion civil forfeiture case that the PCGG filed against Armando and Alfredo Romualdez, brothers of Mrs. Marcos.
The court said the PCGG failed to prove that the Romualdez brothers' assets were illegally amassed using their connection with Marcos Sr., during the latter's 20-year martial law regime.
READ: Historical revisionism legitimized? NHCP issues marker for Marcos monument
Meanwhile, after more than 30 years, it was only in May of this year, when the Sandiganbayan ruled to proceed with a full blown trial of two of the eight civil cases filed by the PCGG and the Office of the Solicitor General in connection with the alleged misuse of the coco levy funds,
The court ruled to proceed with the trial of Civil Cases Nos. 33-B and 33-D filed by the PCGG-OSG against businessman Eduardo “Danding” Jr., former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and several other alleged cronies of Marcos Sr.
Civil Case No. 33-B refers to the disputed ownership of the Cocofed Marketing Corporation (Cocomark) and the United Coconut Planters Life Assurance Corporation (Cocolife) while Civil Case No 33-D covers the companies created through the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF), including United Coconut Oil Mills (Unicom) and 16 other mills.
During Martial Law, coconut farmers were made to contribute to Coconut Industry Development Fund (CIDF) also known as the coco levy fund for the supposed development of the coconut industry and to give them shares of investments.
The Supreme Court in several rulings said Marcos and his alleged cronies, including Cojuangco, instead used the funds for personal profit particularly in the purchase of United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) and a majority stake in San Miguel Corporation (SMC).
The other pending civil cases before the Sandiganbayan concerning the misuse of the coco levy funds include the alleged grant of millions of pesos of behest loans to Cojuangco-owned Northern Cement Corporation, Holiday Villages Philippines, Inc. and Coral Island Resort and Development Corporation as well the alleged illegal acquisition of the plant, machineries and facilities of Alpha Integrated Textile Mills, Inc. by Cojuanco's Southern Textile Mills, Inc.
Also still pending before the Sandiganbayan was a forfeiture case which seeks to recover 150 pieces of paintings and other artworks allegedly purchased by the Marcos family using public funds during Marcos Sr.'s presidency.
READ: Who deserves millions in art seized from Marcos regime?
Based on the estimate of the PCGG, the Marcos family amassed around $5 billion to $10 billion worth of wealth during martial law.
In its 30th anniversary report in February last year, the PCGG said that from 1986 to 2015, it has already recovered around P170 billion or $3.6 billion of the Marcoses' wealth.
Graft cases vs Imelda
Meanwhile, Sandiganbayan records also show that total of 28 criminal cases, involving graft and malversation of public funds were filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against Mrs. Marcos from 1991 to 1995.
Of these, 18 cases were dismissed in favor of Mrs. Marcos while 10 cases, all involving violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, remain pending.
The 10 pending graft cases were all under the court's Fifth Division.
Filed by the ombudsman in December 1991, the cases stemmed from Mrs. Marcos' 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.
READ: Duterte: Why would Marcoses return wealth without immunity?
The ombudsman said Mrs. Marcos violated Section 3 (h) of RA 3019, 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 Fifth Division said the cases are now up for resolution as both the prosecution and defense have already made their formal offer of evidence.
The PCGG had earlier identified a total of $658 million deposits in the conjugal Swiss dollar accounts of Mrs. Marcos and her late husband.