Sandiganbayan upholds dismissal of P102B forfeiture case vs Marcoses

MANILA — The Sandiganbayan upheld its ruling dismissing the PHP102-billion forfeiture case against the late former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, former first lady Imelda Marcos and some of their cronies.

In its resolution dated February 13 released late Wednesday, the anti-graft court’s 2nd Division said “considering that no new and compelling grounds were presented, the present motion (for reconsideration) bears no weight in calling for a reversal much less modification of the assailed decision”.

The tribunal cited, among others, that the pieces of evidence presented “are bereft of any showing that defendants enjoyed a close association with then-President F. Marcos and/or his wife similar to that of a dummy, agent, or nominee and that they unlawfully accumulated wealth by virtue of such close association or relation.”

“Mere allegations and presentation of proof of the positions do not suffice,” the court said, adding that the while the defendants held key positions in the government during the term of Marcos “does not lead to the conclusion that defendants took advantage of their positions and embarked in schemes to unjustly enrich themselves.”

It also said “despite the considerable length of time” for the prosecutors to gather and collate all relevant documentary evidence to prove its causes of action, “it miserably failed to produce the originals of the documents during the trial”.

The court said it finds no reason to modify its original Aug. 5, 2019 decision and denied the prosecutor’s motion for reconsideration.

In its earlier decision, the court had pointed out a lackluster case buildup.

“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. It is settled that in civil cases, the party making allegations has the burden of proving them by a preponderance of the evidence. In addition, the parties must rely on the strength of their own evidence, not upon the weakness of the defense offered by their opponent,” it said.
The court also cleared of the charges Rafael Sison, Placido Mapa Jr., Don M. Ferry, Jose R. Tengco Jr., Ramon Monzon, Generosa C. Olazo, Cynthia Cheong, Ma. Luisa E. Nograles, Leopoldo Vergara, Jose L. Africa, and Rodolfo Arambulo.

Sison, Mapa, Ferry, and Tengco were charged in their capacity as members of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) Board of Governors during the time of President Marcos.

They were accused of acting “concertedly” in extending loans to Aklan Builders Carriers Inc., Fuga Bulk Carriers Inc., Coron Bulk Carriers under terms, the post-Marcos government said, which were gross and manifestly disadvantageous the to the republic.

Vergara and Africa who were executive-vice president and chairman of Traders Royal Bank, respectively, were accused of allegedly collaborating with another crony, Roberto Benedicto when the latter, according to prosecutors, supposedly acted as a conduit of purloined funds in billions of pesos.(PNA)

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