General & Misc

Sandiganbayan disposes of High-Profile Cases in 2018

Date: 28 December 2018; Type: Industry Updates; Source: Philippine News Agency

MANILA, Dec 28 (PNA) - The Sandiganbayan has rendered its decision on some high-profile cases against former and current government officials involved in alleged multi-billion-peso irregularities.

It also decided the numerous cases against one of the most known figures in the Marcos clan, former First Lady Imelda Marcos.

On Nov. 9, 2018, the Sandiganbayan 5th Division found Marcos, now Ilocos Norte congressional representative, guilty of seven counts of graft cases in connection with her alleged “financial interests” when she was still with the government of Metro Manila.

The Sandiganbayan added that the prosecution has proven that Marcos has “financial interest” in some private enterprises.

The anti-graft court also sentenced Marcos “to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of from six years and one month as minimum, up to 11 years as maximum for each count of the graft case filed against her.”

The Sandiganbayan also imposed on Marcos “the penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding any public post.”

In the case information filed in 1991, Marcos was charged with 10 counts of graft for her alleged interests and participation in the management of some private foundations in Switzerland from 1978 to 1984.

Marcos, who was former Minister of Human Settlements, Metro Manila Governor and member of the Interim Batasan Pambansa, is not allowed by law to take part in such businesses.

The questionable foundations were the Vibur Foundation, Maler Establishment, Trinidad Foundation, Rayby Foundation, Palmy Foundation, Aguamina Foundation and Avertina Foundation.

The Office of the Ombudsman also accused the wife of the late president Ferdinand Marcos of allegedly depositing hidden wealth, amounting to almost USD30 million in a bank called Banque Paribas.

Assistant Special Prosecutor Ryan Quilala said Marcos would not be automatically imprisoned because she can still file an appeal before the Supreme Court.

Quilala said the promulgation of the sentence took some time because majority of the witnesses are already dead.

On Nov. 16, 2018, the Sandiganbayan allowed Marcos to post a PHP150,000 bail bond for each count of the seven counts of graft conviction or a total of PHP1.05 million.

'Pork barrel' cases

On Dec. 7, 2018, the Sandiganbayan acquitted former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. of plunder case in connection with his alleged involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel” fund scam.

The Sandiganbayan said the prosecution presented insufficient evidence to prove the graft case against Revilla.

The Ombudsman accused Revilla of allegedly amassing PHP224.5 million in “kickbacks” for channeling his PDAF to businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

Napoles is the alleged “brains” behind the PHP10-billion pork barrel and the PHP900-million Malampaya Fund scams.

On the other hand, the Sandiganbayan found Napoles and Revilla’s former chief of staff, lawyer Richard Cambe, guilty of plunder.

Revilla was detained in 2014 together with former senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile.

Then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the filing of plunder case against Revilla, Cambe and Napoles on April 2014. The Ombudsman filed the plunder case against the three accused before the Sandiganbayan on June 5, 2014.

The case stemmed from the alleged PHP10-billion pork barrel scam after the said amount was used in some bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) of Napoles.

Revilla surrendered to the Sandiganbayan on June 20, 2014 after the case against him was filed by the Ombudsman on June 5, 2014.

His motion for bail for his temporary liberty was denied in December 2014. Revilla appealed the denial of his motion before the Supreme Court. However, in July 2018, the SC junked his appeal.

Last October, Revilla filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator through his wife Bacoor City Mayor Lani Mercado before the Commission on Elections head office in Intramuros, Manila.

Meanwhile, on Dec. 11, 2018, the Sandiganbayan denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes to post bail for her plunder case.

The Sandiganbayan Special Third Division, in a 253-page resolution dated Dec. 7, 2018, denied for lack of merit Reyes’ motion for reconsideration of the Court’s resolution dated June 28, 2018, which she filed on July 3, 2018, as well as her supplemental motion for reconsideration dated July 9, 2018.

The Office of the Ombudsman charged Reyes, together with Enrile, Napoles, Ronald John Li and John Raymund de Asis with plunder on June 6, 2014 for allegedly conspiring over the alleged anomalous disbursement and utilization of the PDAF of Enrile in the total amount of PHP172,834,500, from 2004 to 2010.

Reyes was the former chief of staff of Enrile.

Enrile is currently out on bail after the Supreme Court granted his petition for bail on the ground of humanitarian consideration in 2015.

In 2017, the Sandiganbayan denied the motion of Enrile which sought the dismissal of the plunder case filed against him.

In her motion for reconsideration, Reyes argued that the Sandiganbayan erred in denying her bid to post bail and regain her temporary liberty.

She added that the anti-graft court’s resolution promulgated on June 28, 2018 does not contain a complete summary of the evidence presented by the prosecution during her bail hearings.

“The Court finds the said argument devoid of merit,” the Sandiganbayan said in its ruling.

“A simple perusal of the Court’s assailed Resolution easily reveals that it contains a complete summary of evidence presented by the prosecution during the bail hearings of the accused-movant,” it added.

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