The clan of Ferdinand Marcos is on a roll. For want of original documents, the government has lost a multibillion-peso forfeiture case against the late dictator, his widow and their cronies.
In a decision promulgated on April 4, the Supreme Court affirmed the August 2010 ruling of the Sandiganbayan, seeking to recover about P51 billion from the estate of Ferdinand Marcos, his widow Imelda and several businessmen including construction mogul Rodolfo Cuenca and former trade minister Roberto Ongpin.
The Supreme Court upheld the Sandiganbayan’s finding that the Presidential Commission on Good Government presented insufficient evidence in the case. The SC noted that the PCGG failed, despite directives from the anti-graft court, to present the original documents, which were reportedly kept in a central bank vault, proving that Cuenca’s Construction and Development Corp. of the Philippines bagged sweetheart deals and loans from the government with the approval of the Marcos regime.
Did the Sandiganbayan err in its ruling? It didn’t, according to the SC. So it was the PCGG that dropped the ball –as it had done on several occasions since its creation over three decades ago.
After the Marcos dictatorship collapsed, Corazon Aquino’s Executive Order No. 1 created the PCGG to run after ill-gotten wealth. Since then the PCGG has recovered billions in ill-gotten assets, but has failed to nail any of the Marcoses or their cronies for the plunder of national coffers. The Marcoses also continue to hang on to wealth that not even Japanese wartime general Tomoyuki Yamashita could have dreamed of amassing, including priceless artwork by the Masters and a king’s ransom in jewelry.
The PCGG was never meant to be permanent and deserves to be abolished, but one must be careful what to wish for. The PCGG’s functions are being taken over by Solicitor General Jose Calida, who initiated the quo warranto petition that ousted Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice. Among the concerns raised when Calida was named solicitor general was that he, like his principal, has a soft spot for the Marcos clan. Truly, the Marcoses are on a roll.
The Philippine Star) – June 21, 2018 – 12:00am