SC zaps bid to reverse Imelda ruling

The Supreme Court has denied a petition by the late former solicitor general Frank Chavez to reverse a lower court’s decision clearing former first lady Imelda Marcos of stashing millions of dollars in offshore bank accounts, particularly in Switzerland. 

In a 53-page decision written by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the high court’s Third Division sustained the ruling of the Court of Appeals that denied Chavez’s petition seeking the inhibition of Judge Silvino Pampilo Jr. of the Manila City RTC, whom he accused of being biased in the handling of the government case against Marcos.

When Pampilo turned down Chavez’s plea for his inhibition in 2007, Chavez brought the case before the Court of Appeals, which also denied his petition.

Chavez then filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking to reverse the appellate court’s decision. 

In ruling against Chavez, the high court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals that upheld the ruling of Judge Pampilo not to inhibit from the case. It said there was “no concrete proof” of the judge’s personal interest in the case.

“There was nothing remarkable about the denial of the Motion to Inhibit,” the high court said. 

“It was not hasty, and whether to deny it orally in court is the prerogative of the judge, who could have decided it as soon as its factual basis had been clearly laid.

“The claim that [Chavez’s] testimony would have saved the prosecution’s case is baseless.”

In 2008, Pampilo absolved Marcos and Hector Rivera of the charges on grounds of reasonable doubt, citing “various failures” of the prosecution.

The Manila court found the government’s evidence deficient and based on hearsay, noting that despite the case being anchored on documents from Swiss authorities, only two witnesses with no personal knowledge of the papers were presented.

“Thus, the Regional Trial Court found that the prosecution failed to present competent proof of the alleged offense and of the conspiracy among the accused,” the high court said.

Chavez also attacked the judgment of the Manila City RTC clearing Marcos and her co-accused of the charges.

However, the appellate court ruled that Chavez’s challenge on the ruling of the Manila City court clearing Marcos and her co-accused of liability was improper since his original petition did not cover it.

The court said Chavez failed to provide a legal basis to support his argument that Pampilo violated its injunction by promulgating the ruling that acquitted Marcos.

The high court said the appellate court ruling that denied Chavez’s petition for inhibition “carried with it a contrary order dissolving the injunction.”

The Supreme Court also rebuked the government prosecutors for what it described as their “lackadaisical” resolve to prosecute Marcos.

“The lower court’s liberality in granting the various continuances does not seem to have been met by the presentation of evidence with a depth and quality that would have shown the diligence and seriousness of the prosecution,” the high court said.

Topics: Supreme Court , Frank Chavez , Associate Justice Marvic Leonen , Imelda Marcos
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