Marcos heirs allowed to present evidence in Sandiganbayan ‘ill-gotten wealth’ cases

Published June 24, 2022, 7:30 PM

by Rey Panaligan 


The Sandiganbayan has reversed its earlier ruling as it allowed the heirs of the late former President Ferdinand E. Marcos to present their evidence in several civil cases involving alleged ill-gotten wealth filed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government in 1987.

In a resolution issued last June 22 by the court’s second division in Civil Case No. 0014, allowed to present evidence were Marcos’ heirs former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos, incoming President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr., Imee M. Manotoc, and Irene M. Araneta.

The court set the initial presentation of the evidence by the Marcos’ heirs at 8:30 a.m. on July 7.

The Sandiganbayan said:

“To allow the defendants (Marcos’ heirs) to present their evidence and proceed with the trial of the would be in furtherance of seeking the truth.

“Court litigants are primarily for the search of truth, and a liberal interpretation of the rules by which both parties are given the fullest opportunity to adduce is the best way to ferret out the truth. The dispensation of justice and vindication of legitimate grievances should not be barred by technicalities.

“It is more in accord with justice that a party-litigant is given the fullest opportunity to establish the merits of his claim or defense than for him to lose his life, liberty, honor or property on mere technicalities.

“Truly the rules of procedure are intended to promote substantial justice, not to defeat it, and should not be applied in a very rigid and technical sense.

“Verily, the business of the courts is not just merely to dispose the cases seen as clutters in their dockets. Courts are in place to adjudicate the controversies with the end in view of rendering a definitive statement, and this can only be done by going into the very core and to the full extent of the controversy in order to afford complete relief to all the parties involved.

“WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Motion to Declare Defendant to have Waived their Right to Present Evidence, filed by the plaintiff Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), is hereby DENIED.

“The Motion for Reconsideration and/or To Set Aside Order of Default filed by defendant heirs of Ferdinand E. Marcos is PARTIALLY GRANTED and SET ASIDE.

“Let this case proceed with the initial presentation of defendants’ evidence on 7 July 2022 at 8:30 in the morning.”

The resolution dated last June 22 was written by Associate Justice Arthur O. Malabaguio and concurred in by the court’s Second Division Chairperson Oscar C. Herrera Jr. and Associate Justice Michael Fredrick L. Musgi.

Named defendants in Civil Case No. 0014 were Modesto Enriquez, Trinidad Diaz Enriquez, Rebecco Panlilio, Erlinda Enriquez Panlilio, Leando Enriquez, Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos, Don M. Ferry, Roman A. Cruz Jr. and Gregorio R. Castillo.

They were named in the case for reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution and damages involving the control and ownership of Ternate Development Corp., Monte Sol Development Corporation, Olas del Mar Development Corporation, Fantasia Filipina Resort, Inc., Sulo Dobbs, Inc., Philippine Village, Inc., Silahis International Hotel, Inc., and Hotel Properties.

Due to their exile abroad, the Marcoses failed to file their answer to the civil cases. They were declared in default. With the death of the Marcos patriarch, the heirs were substituted as defendants.

The PCGG, through the OSG, sought the enforcement of the default order.

In his motion for reconsideration, “Bongbong” Marcos told the Sandiganbayan that if their motion to reconsider the default order would not be resolved in their favor, their rights to due process and fair play would be violated.

The motion for reconsideration was granted.

Aside from allowing the Marcos’ heirs to present their evidence, the Sandiganbayan also ruled that their “Supplemental Answer with Cross Claim and Counter-Claim is admitted as part of the records.”