By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Sandiganbayan Second Division has dropped lawyer and well-known Marcos crony Robert Benedicto from his civil case because of a compromise agreement entered into with the Philippine Commission on Good Governance (PCGG).
Benedicto, who is one of the several individuals included in the civil case against former President Ferdinand Marcos due to their “unjust enrichment,” was President of the Philippine National Bank as well as Philippine Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Japan, Chairman of the Philippine Sugar Commission and Chairman of the Board of the National Sugar Trading Corporation.
In the complaint against him, he was accused because of the “systematic pillage and impoverishment of the Philippine sugar industry.”
He reportedly avoided the discovery of the Marcoses’ “unmitigated plunder of the National Treasury” by employing lawyers, financial experts, businessmen, and the likes then invented funds, securities and other assets estimated at billions of U.S. dollars in various banks and trust and investment companies here and abroad.
On November 3, 1990, Benedicto entered into a compromise agreement with the PCGG. In it, the PCGG decided to drop Benedicto from the case provided that he give up sequestered properties from Civil Case No. 34, which involved his assets and group of companies; Civil Case No. 9, which involved telecommunication companies; and Civil Case No. 23,which involved Phil-Asia and Philippine Integrated Meat Corporation (PIMECO).
The compromise was approved by the Sandiganbayan, but it was assailed in a petition for certiorari. The petition was later denied by the Supreme Court, and the compromise agreement was upheld.
“Considering that there is no objection on the part of the plaintiff for the name of Roberto S. Benedicto to be dropped as party-defendant in the instant case in view of its confirmation that said defendant and the government through the PCGG entered into a Compromise Agreement, which was duly approved by this Court and affirmed by the Supreme Court, the instant Manifestation and Motion should be, as it is hereby granted,” the Sandiganbayan resolution read.
The PCGG asked for moral damages in the amount of P100 billion, not to mention temperate damages and nominal damages, as well as exemplary damages in the amount of P2 billion, attorney fees, litigation expenses, and treble judicial costs.