PCGG cases: No evidence is the right term

"The real reason for the dismissal is the non-presentation of proof."


From an observer’s point of view, the successive dismissal by the Sandiganbayan of the alleged ill-gotten wealth against the former President, his family and cronies of the cases filed by the presidential good-for-nothing commission for insufficiency of evidence is wrong. It was the PCGG that failed to present any evidence for which the respondents were unjustly branded as “megatheives” and “kleptocrats.” The dismissal was more of an insult than a vindication of justice much that the cases have been hibernating in court for more than 30 years.

We are saying this because the real reason for the dismissal is the non-presentation of evidence. Nobody in his right mind would call the evidence the submitted the PCGG as evidence. This we have to clarify because there is a whale of difference between evidence from one that is presented as sham. Maybe there is a semblance of compliance submitted by the presidential good-for-nothing commission but in truth it was nothing more but a mockery of the court procedure. The PCGG virtually submitted no evidence and now blames the Office of the Solicitor General for their idiotic ineptitude. As OSG Jose Calida commented, the simple rule is for the PCGG, having originally filed the case to observe the Best Evidence Rule “which is required when the subject of inquiry is (sic) the contents of a document, no evidence is admissible other than the original document itself except in the instances mentioned in Section 3, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court.”

The commission was fully aware of the gravity of the cases they lodged. They have been pending in court for more than three decades already. If they have doubts on the strength of their evidence, they could have filed a motion with leave of court to amend or admit additional evidence in support of their allegation. There is no reason why the court would reject their admission if that t would help in the speedy adjudication of the case.

It is on record that the lawyers for the prosecutors were not so diligent in attending the hearing of those cases. They should have considered that the dismissal of those cases would not just have the consequence of vindicating the Marcoses but could fall flat their hounding of the former President up to his grave. The dismissal would not just end up as a simple case of the accused being vindicated but would require the overhauling of the monstrosity they committed to distort our history.

More than that, the acolytes of the hypocrites serving as town criers would be eating their own words as any decision adverse to them could paradoxically point at them as the real looters and plunderers of the nation’s wealth and resources. It is of record, that it was through the PCGG where the government virtually committed licentious banditry against the properties of their political enemies.

These hypocrites have proven themselves to be consummate in their lust for vengeance beginning in their amendment of laws on the presumption of innocence of the accused. The pastor who was the first chairman of the presidential good-for-nothing commission crafted his own version how the accused and his property will be treated in court. Through an executive order, he made a way to sequester properties, bank deposits, jewelleries, paintings or anything of value they can identify and point to as allegedly own by the Marcos or by hunch transacted to be him to validate the sequestration of their property and contest the decision later.

Many decisions rendered by the court made during the height of their passion for vengeance zeroed in on the motive of wanting to get the money. This is unprecedented because the release of the deposit by the High Court sine qua non requires that the person identified as owner of the alleged ill-gotten wealth be first convicted to finalize the seizure. But in the case of the escrow deposit of the Marcoses, it was the money they convicted and not the person of the accused.

One must not forget that the term “Ill-gotten wealth” is descriptive to the person accused of “ill-gotten” and not to the money or property itself. Money can never be classified as ill-gotten unless the person identified as owner is convicted. Only in that instance can the accused as owner of the ill-gotten wealth be convicted. But what happened is that the High Court convicted the escrow deposit for purposes of securing its release of the funds from the banks without convicting the owners of the deposit or finding them guilty in support for the court’s holding of the escrow funds.

In the so many cases filed for the recovery of the alleged ill-gotten wealth like the case for the recovery of alleged US$292 million in foreign bank deposits; the P1.6 billion shares of stocks in PLDT; the $98 million investment in foreign banks, financial houses and industrial mining; the investment in real properties in the US and UK; a total of 177 paintings; the 42 crates of jewellery worth $8.9 million; the P236 million worth of jewelry at the Honolulu airport; the P16 million worth of “vanity items” contained in 24 boxes and suitcases; the P102-billion case related to Roberto Benedicto (dismissed on Aug. 5, 2019); the P1- billion case related to Bienvenido Tantoco (dismissed on Sept. 25, 2019); the P267.371-million case related to Ignacio and Fe Roa Gimenez (dismissed on Oct. 14, 2019); the P976-million bank deposits at the Security Bank and Trust Co.; the P711-million bank deposits at the Traders Royal Bank; the P33-million agricultural land in Leyte; the P18-million residential property in Leyte; and many more for a total of almost 1,000 criminal and civil cases filed against the family.

It is not so much on the number of cases filed but of the hard truth that not a single of the almost a thousand cases filed prospered, except for one where former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos was convicted by the lower court only to be reversed by the same court after a motion for reconsideration clearing her of “misappropriation” involving the rental of property by the Ministry for Human Settlements with its proceeds used to help indigent patient of PGH. More than that, the dismissal of those civil cases against the Marcoses revolved mainly on how to legalize their mulcting and extortion done to permanently sequester those alleged ill-gotten wealth in the event the court will favor the sequestration of the those properties.

As said, the dismissal of those cases appears to remind them that there is something they have to return. But as it is, the accuser of the Marcoses turned out to be the real looters. Even before final judgment could rendered to determine the owners of the sequestered properties, the PCGG already began to dispose them failing to understand that pending sequestration they have to take care of those properties until their status as alleged ill-gotten is legally determined.

A good case was the decision to sell the four buildings in New York. The four buildings were sold in a fire sale-like fashion with zealots disposing them alacrity. The decision to sell was without final declaration by the New York Circuit Court that the buildings were owned by the Marcoses or by any of their cronies, namely Gliceria and Bienvenido Tantoco, the posted owner of Rustan’s Supermarket, lest for the PCGG to recover the reasonable amount stashed by them. 

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Topics: Sandiganbayan , PCGG , Office of the Solicitor General , Roberto Benedicto , High Court , Jose Calida
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