By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
Associate Justice Maryann E. Corpus-Mañalac of the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division might have concurred in dismissing the civil forfeiture case against the Marcos family, but she believes that most of their ill-gotten wealth have already been recovered anyway.
She said that it has already been judicially established that the Marcoses have ill-gotten wealth or illegally acquired properties. But the question remains as to which assets and properties are part of such illegally-acquired wealth.
“What actually the remaining assets are, if any at all, which continue to be the subject of the present action vis-a-vis the application of the prima facie presumption of ill-gotten wealth is unclear,” she wrote in her separate concurring opinion.
Corpus-Mañalac said she could not “vote to provide any relief to the plaintiff” because it failed to provide a “clear and unambiguous listing” of the remaining assets and properties involved in the case.
Given that the case took place over 32 years ago, Corpus-Mañalac stressed that it is necessary to be specific in the items sought recovered “in order to avoid conflicting rulings but also for purposes of clarity, practicality and expediency.”
Corpus-Mañalac further stated that the bulk of the assets sought to be recovered had actually been received by the state, either by compromise agreement or favorable judgment. Because of this, Corpus-Mañalac said that the recovery of such items renders the complaint moot relative to those assets and properties already recovered.
“A case becomes moot and academic when, by virtue of supervising events, there is no more actual controvery between the parties and no useful purpose can be served in passing upon the merits,” she explained.
On December 16, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division dismissed Civil Case No. 0002 in favor of the late President, his wife, former First Lady and Imelda Marcos, and their children because of the failure of the prosecution to prove how they allegedly accumulated ill-gotten wealth.
The P200-billion civil forfeiture case, filed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) back on July 16, 1987, stemmed from the “misappropriation and theft of public funds, plunder of the nation’s wealth, extortion, blackmail, bribery, embezzlement and other acts of corruption,” the complaint against them read.
The PCGG urged the anti-graft court to let them return all funds and properties they have illegally obtained. They also sought exemplary damages amounting to P1 billion, including temperate damages, attorney fees and litigation expenses to be determined by the court, among other things.
In the complaint, the PCGG demanded that the Marcos family return their alleged ill-gotten wealth which included P976 million worth of deposits at the Security Bank and Trust Company and P711 million at the Traders Royal Bank.
They also have 33 parcels of residential property with an estimated value of P18 million, and about 21,700 hectares of agricultural land in Leyte with an estimated value of P33 million.
Included in the items sought to be reclaimed by the PCGG are shares of stocks in numerous corporations totalling approximately 625 million shares, including 2.4 million shares of Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) Company – valued at current market prices approximately at P1.6 billion. These shares are registered in the names of Prime Holdings Inc. (PHI), the late Ramon Cojuangco, and their associates.
As for deposits made with banks in the United States and other countries, they have made around $292 million. They also have investments in banks, financial houses, industrial, mining and other corporations valued approximately at $98 million.
The Marcoses have four major buildings in Manhattan, an estate in Long Island, and condominiums in Fifth Avenue – all in New York. They have a penthouse in London, residential houses in Honolulu, Hawaii, Beverly Hills, California, and Cedars, Mississippi.
Adding to their wealth are valuable works of art, such as paintings by Degas, El Greco, Gaugin, Goya, Manet, Matisse, Michelangelo, Monet, Picasso, Renoir, and Reubens, among many others. They have accumulated 177 paintings. These were formerly displayed in Malacanang, the Philippine Townhouse, and the condominiums in Manhattan. Some of them are now missing.
The PCGG also hit the Marcos family for 42 crates of boxes, suit cases, attache cases and envelopes containing jewelry, US and Philippine currencies, certificates of time deposits, documents and bearer certificates. The value of the Philippine currency is pegged at P27 million, while the US currency and jewelries are estimated at $8.9 million.
These jewelries are not even included in the count of assorted pieces of jewelry transferred to a third country after February 26, 1986 pegged at $236 million. These were intercepted at the airport.
More of their wealth were uncovered after February 26. Twenty four boxes and suitcases filled with jewelry, coins, medallions, perfumes and evening gowns – appraised at P14 million – were discovered in Malacanang. Marcos’ winter wardrobe appraised at P288,000 was also found at the Manila Mandarin Hotel in a cold storage vault.