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SC affirms dismissal of P1 billion ill-gotten wealth case vs. Marcoses due to lack of evidence

By NICK GARCIA Published Jul 20, 2023 12:34 pm

The Supreme Court (SC) affirmed anti-graft court Sandiganbayan's 2019 decision to junk the P1.05 billion ill-gotten wealth case against the Marcoses due to lack of evidence.

In its decision made public on July 19, the SC said Sandiganbayan "committed no reversible error in dismissing" the complaint filed by Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) for insufficient evidence.

In 1987, the PCGG filed a civil forfeiture case (Civil Case No. 0008) in a bid to recover from Imelda Marcos, Ferdinand E. Marcos, and their alleged cronies P1.052 billion, P609.27 million of which are shares of stocks and P443.05 million are real properties.

The alleged cronies, including Bienvenido Tantoco Jr., Dominador Santiago, Bienvenido Tantoco Sr., Gliceria Tantoco, and Maria Lourdes Tantoco-Pineda, supposedly assisted the Marcoses in amassing artwork, clothing, jewelry, and real estate properties in New York via their company that operated tourist duty-free shops at international airports, hotels, and commercial centers.

Sandiganbayan rejected the "numerous pieces of evidence" submitted by the PGCC, noting they weren't disclosed during the discovery process. Others were also excluded for violating the so-called best evidence rule, i.e., the usage of original documents and not photocopies.

Sandiganbayan concluded that the remaining evidence were insufficient to prove the PCGG's allegations in its expanded complaint.

"While it is truly disappointing that nothing has come of this case despite the lapse of 36 years spent in litigation," the Supreme Court said, "the Court agrees with the Sandiganbayan that petitioner's evidence is insufficient to support the allegations of its Expended Complaint by a preponderance of evidence."