The subject involving the Marcoses, Martial Law and ill-gotten wealth is something that can easily trigger a heated debate between supporters and critics. The victims of the Marcos regime are still fighting for the justice that they deserve. This time, they are fighting attempts of revisionism and misinformation regarding the history of the country, especially to events during Marcos’ 21-year rule.
Just recently, an article about how the Supreme Court (SC) supposedly cleared the heirs of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, including his widow, Imelda, and their children former Senator Bongbong Marcos, Imee Marcos, and Irene Marcos-Araneta, from ill-gotten charges has surfaced on social media.
The article was picked up by a website called socialnewsph.com, which Meme Buster has tagged as one of those websites that have shared several fake and satirical articles.
It was also shared by Marcos fan page Kilusang Bagong Lipunan and Duterte fan page Duterte Parallel Organization – Tagumpay ng Pagbabago.
According to the article, the SC “junked the ill-gotten cases against the heirs and in-laws” of the late dictator. It even highlighted that the cause for junking the case was “lack of evidence.” The SC decision also took the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and the Office of Solicitor General (OSG) for “bungling the job.”
The dismissed cases reportedly involved the alleged accumulation of P200 billion of ill-gotten wealth, their acquisition of IBC-13, BBC-2, and RPN-9, the use of De Soleil Apparel for dollar salting, and the acquisition of the Pantranco North Express Inc. bus company.
The decision was written by then Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on February 8, 2012 and Second Division Justices Martin Villarama Jr. Arturo Brion, Jose Portugal Perez and Bienvenido Reyes concurred with that decision. About six months later, former President Benigno Aquino III appointed Sereno as Chief Justice.
The said decision also questioned the process used by the OSG and PCFF in handling evidence, which failed to follow the “best evidence rule.
The justices’ decision read:
“Despite having the expansive resources of government, the members of the prosecution did not even bother to provide any reason whatsoever for their failure to present the original documents or the witnesses to support the government’s claims.
Even worse was presenting in evidence a photocopy of the TSN (transcript of stenographic notes) of the PCGG proceedings instead of the original, or a certified true copy of the original, which the prosecutors themselves should have had in their custody.
Such manner of legal practice deserves the reproof of this Court. We are constrained to call attention to this apparently serious failure to follow the most basic rule of law, given the special circumstances surrounding this case.”
As to Marcos’ children, who were the defendants in the case, the SC decision said: “In fact, they were never mentioned by any of the witnesses presented. Neither did the documentary evidence pinpoint any specific involvement of the Marcos children.”
The SC also dismissed the charges against Irene’s husband, Gregorio Araneta III, for lack of evidence.
The article posted by socialnewsph went on to give more details about the case. After researching about relevant news covering the discussed decision by the SC, we found an article Manila Standard Today that said “SC clears FM heirs of ill-gotten charges” published on March 31, 2014. And from the first to the last paragraph, it is very similar to the one published by socialnewsph. It actually is the same article that was copied by socialnewsph.
Further research led us to an article published by Interaksyon on April 1, 2014 that claimed the opposite. It said that the SC actually NEVER CLEARED the Marcos heirs from charges of ill-gotten wealth. In fact, the opposite has happened since the SC even reinstated charges against two Imee and Bongbong.
SC spokesperson issued the clarification to correct the Manila Standard Today’s headline that said “SC clears FM heirs of ill-gotten charges.”
The SC decision in case G.R. No. 171701 (Republic of the Philippines, petitioner, versus Ma. Imelda ‘Imee’ Marcos-Manotoc, et al., respondents) may have said “it was not proven that respondents conspired in accumulating ill-gotten wealth,” but it also pointed out, “they may be in possession, ownership or control of such ill-gotten properties or the proceeds thereof as heirs of the Marcos couple.”
The decision added, making it clear that they did not dismiss the case against Marcos’ heirs: “Thus, their lack of participation in any illegal act does not remove the character of the property as ill-gotten and, therefore, as rightfully belonging to the State.”
The SC said that only the case before the Sandiganbayan can determine whether the Marcoses’ wealth are ill-gotten or not.
“It is only during the trial of Civil Case No. 0002 before the Sandiganbayan that there could be a determination of whether these properties are indeed ill-gotten or were legitimately acquired by respondents and their predecessors,” the decision said.
And yes, Imee, Bongbong, and Irene are definitely maintained as respondents in the case involving ill-gotten wealth.
“In sum, the Marcos siblings are maintained as respondents, because (1) the action pending before the Sandiganbayan is one that survives death, and, therefore, the rights to the estate must be duly protected; (2) they allegedly control, possess or own ill-gotten wealth, though their direct involvement in accumulating or acquiring such wealth may not have been proven,” the SC decision added.
An Inquirer article entitled “Supreme Court orders reinstatement of Marcos children in ill-gotten wealth case” published on February 21, 2012 also reported about the SC’s order to reinstate Bongbong, Imee and Irene as defendants in the P200-billion ill-gotten wealth case.
The Supreme Court did not clear the Marcos heirs from the ill-gotten wealth case filed against them in 1987. Instead, the SC decided to have the Marcos children reinstated as defendants in the case and the state prosecutors investigated for bungling the case.
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