SC affirms forfeiture of Imelda jewelry collection

SC affirms forfeiture of Imelda jewelry collection

The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the forfeiture of former first lady Imelda Marcos’ jewelry collection, which was left behind by the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at Malacañang when they fled during the 1986 EDSA People Power revolution. AP/Bullit Marquez


MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the forfeiture of former first lady Imelda Marcos’ jewelry collection, which was left behind by the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at Malacañang when they fled during the 1986 EDSA People Power revolution.


In a 21-page decision penned by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, the First Division of the high court affirmed the 2014 ruling of the Sandiganbayan that ordered the forfeiture of the 400-piece “Malacañang Collection” in favor of the government upon efforts by the Presidential Commission on Good Government.


The SC dismissed the petition filed by Mrs. Marcos and daughter Irene Marcos-Araneta seeking reversal of the anti-graft court’s finding that the jewelry collection, assessed to be worth more than $150,000, was part of the their family’s ill-gotten wealth. 


“Petitioners failed to satisfactorily show that the properties were lawfully acquired; hence, the prima facie presumption that they were unlawfully acquired prevails,” the ruling reads.


The SC also rejected the claim of petitioners that they were deprived of due process since there was no trial or hearing for them to be able to prove that the jewelry were legally acquired. 


Instead, the high court agreed with the Sandiganbayan’s partial summary judgment that “the forfeiture was justified and that the Malacañang Collection was subject to forfeiture.”


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The SC pointed out that the subject jewelry collection was beyond the means of the Marcos family, whose legitimate income had been pegged only at $304,372.43 from 1966 to 1986.


“We reiterate what we have already stated initially in Republic v. Sandiganbayan, and subsequently in Marcos v. Republic: that ‘Whenever any public officer or employee has acquired during his incumbency an amount of property which is manifestly out of proportion to his salary as such public officer or employee and to his other lawful income and the income from legitimately acquired property, said property shall be presumed prima facie to have been unlawfully acquired,’” the SC said.


The Malacañang Collection is kept in the vaults of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas along with the Roumeliotes Collection and Hawaii Collection, the two other sets of jewelry seized from Mrs. Marcos.


The Hawaii Collection comprises pieces of jewelry found in the family’s luggage when they arrived at the Honolulu International Airport on Feb. 25, 1986.


The 60-piece Roumeliotes, on the other hand, was seized from Demetriou Roumeliotes, a Greek businessman who was reportedly a crony of the dictator.


Roumeliotes attempted to smuggle out the jewelry set. The jewelry was seized from him when he was at the Manila International Airport as he was about to leave the country in March 1986.