Imelda con­victed over Swiss ac­counts

Sandi­gan­bayan or­ders is­suance of ar­rest war­rant

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page - By CZARINA NICOLE O. ONG

For­mer First Lady and in­cum­bent Ilo­cos Norte 2nd District Rep. Imelda R. Mar­cos was found guilty by the Sandi­gan­bayan Fifth Di­vi­sion on seven counts of graft due to her fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests in sev­eral foun­da­tions cre­ated in Switzer­land dur­ing the Mar­cos ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The Sandi­gan­bayan or­dered the is­suance of a war­rant of ar­rest against her, but this may not be ex­e­cuted im­me­di­ately be­cause Mar­cos can ap­peal the rul­ing.

“She can el­e­vate it to the Supreme Court if she sees grave

abuse of dis­cre­tion in the Sandi­gan­bayan's de­ci­sion. So this is not yet fi­nal and ex­ecu­tory,” As­sis­tant Spe­cial Pros­e­cu­tor Ryan Quilala told re­porters.

In a press state­ment, Mar­cos said for­mer Gov­ern­ment Cor­po­rate Coun­sel Manuel “Lo­long” Lazaro has started study­ing the Sandi­gan­bayan de­ci­sion and has ad­vised her that “he in­tends to file a Mo­tion for Re­con­sid­er­a­tion.”

Lazaro, who acted as pres­i­den­tial le­gal coun­sel to the em­bat­tled solon’s hus­band, the late Pres­i­dent Fer­di­nand E. Mar­cos, had pre­vi­ously acted as her coun­sel in the graft charges filed against her.

The vet­eran lawyer will tem­po­rar­ily take over lawyer Robert Si­son, Mar­cos’s at­tor­ney-on-record, who can­not at­tend to the case be­cause of med­i­cal con­fine­ment at the Asian Hospi­tal.

At the pro­mul­ga­tion on Fri­day, nei­ther Mar­cos nor her lawyers were present. She has been given 30 days by the anti-graft court to ex­plain her ab­sence dur­ing the pro­mul­ga­tion.

“Where­fore, judg­ment is hereby ren­dered find­ing the ac­cused, Imelda R. Mar­cos, guilty be­yond rea­son­able doubt for vi­o­la­tion of R.A. No. 3019 Sec­tion 3(h)... whereby she is sen­tenced in each case to suf­fer an in­de­ter­mi­nate penalty of im­pris­on­ment of six years and one month, as min­i­mum, to 11 years, as max­i­mum, with per­pet­ual dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion from hold­ing pub­lic of­fice,” the dis­pos­i­tive por­tion of the de­ci­sion read.

Her to­tal prison sen­tence is 42 years and seven months min­i­mum and 77 years max­i­mum.

Ac­quit­ted in 3 other raps Mar­cos was, how­ever, ac­quit­ted in three of her other graft charges in­volv­ing lo­cal cor­po­ra­tions due to in­suf­fi­ciency of ev­i­dence.

Her graft charges, filed back in 1991, stemmed from her "di­rect and in­di­rect fi­nan­cial or pe­cu­niary in­ter­est" in the man­age­ment of sev­eral non-gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions cre­ated in Switzer­land from 1968 to 1984.

Mar­cos main­tained ac­counts with the Swiss Bank Cor­po­ra­tion for the said foun­da­tions "for the ben­e­fit of the ac­cused and her late hus­band," ac­cord­ing to the charge sheets.

At the time, Mar­cos was Min­is­ter of Hu­man Set­tle­ment and En­vi­ron­ment Man­age­ment, Metro Manila Gover­nor, and a mem­ber of the In­terim BatasangPam­bansa.

Th­ese foun­da­tions in­clude Maler Es­tab­lish­ment, Trinidad Foun­da­tion, Rayby Foun­da­tion, Palmy Foun­da­tion, Vibur Foun­da­tion, Aguam­ina Foun­da­tion, and Avertina Foun­da­tion.

Be­cause of her po­si­tion in the gov­ern­ment, she was "pro­hib­ited by the Con­sti­tu­tion from hav­ing any in­ter­est dur­ing her term of of­fice" in th­ese busi­nesses.

Quilala ex­plained that the amounts in­volved with the foun­da­tions vary, and it is hard to give an ex­act num­ber be­cause they used dif­fer­ent cur­ren­cies, namely francs and dol­lars. How­ever, they es­ti­mate the to­tal to be around $200 mil­lion.

Free to run for gover­nor

Quilala­said Mar­cos is still free to run as Ilo­cos Norte Gover­nor in 2019, as long as she posts a cash bond be­fore the Sandi­gan­bayan while ap­peal­ing the de­ci­sion.

Deputy Speaker and Capiz Rep. Fre­de­nil Cas­tro said that de­spite her con­vic­tion, Mar­cos will re­main a mem­ber of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

“Un­less the judg­ment has be­come fi­nal, noth­ing could be done against Mrs. Mar­cos,” Cas­tro said.

Quilala said that he con­sid­ers her Swiss ac­count con­vic­tions as a “vic­tory” de­spite her ac­quit­tal in three other graft charges.

“We pre­sented for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Ce­sar Vi­rata, and ac­cord­ing to his tes­ti­mony eh hindi na­man di­rectly ma-pin­point 'yung par­tic­i­pa­tion ni First Lady, so hindi ga­nun kasama ang loob­namin as to the lo­cal cor­po­ra­tions, (he can­not di­rectly pin­point the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the First Lady, so we are not that dis­sat­is­fied with the re­sults as to the lo­cal cor­po­ra­tions)," he said.

Mar­cos, 89, is the mother of Ilo­cos Norte Gover­nor Imee Mar­cos and for­mer Se­na­tor and vice pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Fer­di­nand "Bong­bong" Mar­cos, Jr.

Im­par­tial jus­tice

The lat­est graft con­vic­tion of for­mer First Lady Imelda Mar­cos high­lighted "a work­ing and im­par­tial jus­tice sys­tem” in the coun­try, Pres­i­den­tial spokesman Sal­vador Panelo said. (With re­ports from Genalyn D. Kabiling, Ben R. Rosario, and Reuters)

GUILTY – Mrs. Imelda Mar­cos, shown vis­it­ing the grave of her hus­band Fer­di­nand Mar­cos in 2017, could face a max­i­mum prison sen­tence of 77 years af­ter be­ing found guilty by the Sandi­gan­bayan of seven counts of graft. (AP)

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