The Sandiganbayan has affirmed the dismissal of the 29-year ill-gotten wealth case against the in-laws of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
In a recently-released 12-page resolution, the court’s First Division denied the government’s appeal on the Aug. 15 decision to grant the demurrers of former Tacloban City Mayor Alfredo Romualdez, and spouses Armando and Vilma Romualdez.
The court had found that in Civil Case No. 0019, the evidence–consisting of 25 witnesses and 400 documentary exhibits–was insufficient to prove the Romualdezes’ sequestered properties were ill-gotten. For one, the documentary evidence were mostly photocopies.
Government lawyers argued in their appeal that the court should have considered the “probative value” of the public documents presented because these were properly authenticated by official custodians. They also claimed the court “totally disregarded the testimonial evidence of the Republic.”
The court, however, took exception to the government’s claim. It stressed that “it is glaringly apparent and clear that the Court, in coming up with the said decision, had judiciously and carefully considered the testimonial evidence of the Republic.”
But it maintained that government lawyers have failed to hurdle the standards on evidence since the “bulk of its documentary evidence consists of photocopies.”
“No amount of testimony of the documents’ custodians evidence can elevate their worth without first complying with… the Rules of Court,” the resolution read.
Alfredo and Armando are the brothers of former First Lady and current Ilocos Sur 2nd Dist. Rep. Imelda Marcos. The Marcos couple, as well as former Agriculture secretary Amelia Gonzales and businessman Ricardo Quintos, were also co-defendants in the forfeiture case.
The said case involves: 67 parcels of land in the provinces of Isabela, Camarines Sur, Occidental Mindoro, Masbate, and in La Vista, Quezon City; shares of stocks in six private corporations; various bank deposits; a fleet of heavy equipment vehicles, six airplanes and a helicopter; and 500 heads of imported breeding cattle and a racehorse.
Government lawyers claimed the defendants used a number of companies to acquire leveraged loans from the government. These firms include Golden Country Farms Inc., Imperial Livestock Industries Inc., Isabela Gas and Power Development Corp., Highway Builders Inc., Maconacon Airways Inc., and Dipudo Industries Inc.
Several forfeiture cases are still pending at the Sandiganbayan in a bid to recover the ill-gotten wealth allegedly amassed by the Marcoses and their cronies during their two-decade reign.
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SOURCE: YOUTUBE, INQUIRER