Sandigan dismisses PCGG’s bid to get more Marcos assets

THE Sandiganbayan has junked the motion for reconsideration filed by the government through the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) seeking to recover several more properties believed to be part of the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family.

In a 12-page resolution dated July 22, 2022, the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division denied the PCGG’s appeal to reconsider its December 16, 2019 decision dismissing its complaint for reversion, reconveyance, restitution, accounting of supposed ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses allegedly amounting to P200 billion, as well as damages.

The Sandiganbayan noted in its December 16, 2019 decision, that most of the documentary evidence presented by the PCGG was photocopied, in violation of the best evidence rule.

Prior to this, the Sandiganbayan partially granted PCGG’s MR, saying that a sweeping dismissal of the entire complaint on the ground of the Best Evidence Rule (now Original Document Rule) “is not warranted,” since many of the subject properties have long been recovered by the government.

Thus, the anti-graft court directed the Sandiganbayan to submit a report as to the status of the properties subject of its original complaint and all its subsequent amendments.

Upon receipt of the PCGG’s report, the Sandiganbayan said it would make a final determination of whether the properties that had not been recovered yet by virtue of final judgments and/or compromise agreements should be returned to the government, in consideration of the pieces of evidence that the PCGG presented during trial.

Based on the compliance report submitted by the PCGG, the Sandiganbayan noted that many of the properties subject of the present case have already been recovered or transferred to third persons not party to the case.

These include, among others, shares of stock under the IRC Group of Companies ceded to the government by virtue of compromise agreement with Jose Campos and private in 1994; 526 pieces of sequestered art collections already turned over to the PCGG and presently under the custody of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for safekeeping; the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company’s 111,415 shares in the of PTIC which were disposed in 2006 through public bidding in favor of Metro Pacific Assets Holdings, Inc. for a price of P25.2 billion; and the Marcos peso and dollar deposits in Security Bank and Trust Co. in the amount of P934.6 million and $8 million, respectively, were released/paid to PCGG in 1992 and remitted to the Bureau of the Treasury for agrarian reform fund.

Except for the properties still under verification, the Sandiganbayan noted that only four properties have remained under the control of the Marcoses.

It identified these as the Currimao Beach House registered in the name of Ferdinand E. Marcos; the house in Pandacan, Manila under the full control and supervision of the Marcoses and registered in the name of heirs of Vicente Romualdez; the Batac Museum which is under the control and supervision of the Marcoses; and the Batac Guest House, also under the control and supervision of the Marcoses.

The Sandiganbayan noted that it had given the PCGG the opportunity to submit further evidence in support of its report.

Unfortunately, the Sandiganbayan said, the PCGG failed to do so as the latter manifested in its compliance submitted on April 25, 2022 that “all material and relevant documents and pieces of evidence for the instant case have already been presented during the trial.”

“Considering that the evidence already offered by the plaintiff during trial do not sufficiently establish its claims as to the properties mentioned above that are purportedly still within the Marcoses’ control, the Court is constrained to deny the plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration dated December 29, 2019 as regard to the said properties,” the Sandiganbayan declared.