IMELDA GUILTY

Sandi­gan or­ders her ar­rest for graft

Tempo - - Front Page - By AP CZA­RINA NICOLE O. ONG

The Sandi­gan­bayan yes­ter­day found for­mer First Lady Imelda R. Mar­cos guilty of graft and or­dered her ar­rest in a rare con­vic­tion among many cor­rup­tion cases that she's likely to ap­peal to avoid jail and los­ing her seat at the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

The Sandi­gan­bayan sen­tenced the in­cum­bent Ilo­cos Norte rep­re­sen­ta­tive who is now 89years-old to serve six to 11 years in prison for each of the seven counts of vi­o­lat­ing Repub­lic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Cor­rupt Prac­tices Act when she il­le­gally fun­neled about $200 mil­lion (about ₱10 bil­lion) to Swiss foun­da­tions in the 1970s as Metro Manila gover­nor.

Nei­ther Mar­cos nor any­one rep­re­sent­ing her at­tended yes­ter­day’s court hear­ing. No one has is­sued any re­ac­tion on her be­half although her lawyers were ex­pected to ap­peal the rul­ing, which anti-Mar­cos ac­tivists and hu­man rights vic­tims wel­comed as long over­due.

The Sandi­gan­bayan dis­qual­i­fied Mar­cos from hold­ing pub­lic of­fice, but she can re­main a mem­ber of the House while ap­peal­ing the de­ci­sion. Her con­gres­sional term will end next year but she has reg­is­tered to run to re­place her daugh­ter Imee R. Mar­cos as gover­nor of Ilo­cos Norte.

"I was jump­ing up and down in joy in dis­be­lief," said for­mer Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights chair­per­son Loretta Ann Ros­ales, who was among many ac­tivists locked up af­ter Imelda's hus­band, for­mer Pres­i­dent Fer­di­nand E. Mar­cos, de­clared mar­tial law in the Philip­pines in 1972.

Ros­ales said the de­ci­sion was a huge set­back to ef­forts by the Mar­cos fam­ily to re­vise his­tory by deny­ing many of the atroc­i­ties un­der the dic­ta­tor­ship, and urged Filipinos to fight all threats against democ­racy and civil lib­er­ties.

Imelda's hus­band was ousted by an Army-backed Peo­ple Power Rev­o­lu­tion in 1986. He died in self-ex­ile in Hawaii in 1989 but his widow and chil­dren re­turned to the Philip­pines. Most have been elected to pub­lic of­fices in an im­pres­sive po­lit­i­cal come­back.

Gov­ern­ment pros­e­cu­tor Ryan Quilala said that Imelda and her hus­band opened and man­aged Swiss foun­da­tions in vi­o­la­tion of the Philip­pine Con­sti­tu­tion, us­ing aliases in a bid to hide stolen funds. The Mar­coses have been ac­cused of plun­der­ing the gov­ern­ment's cof­fers amid crush­ing poverty. They have de­nied any wrong­do­ing and have suc­cess­fully fought many other cor­rup­tion cases.

Imelda was ac­quit­ted in three other cases yes­ter­day, which were filed in 1991 and took nearly three decades of trial by sev­eral judges and pros­e­cu­tors. She was once con­victed of a graft case in 1993, but the Supreme Court later cleared her of any wrong­do­ing.

Pres­i­dent Duterte, an ally of the Mar­coses, said last year the Mar­cos fam­ily had in­di­cated a will­ing­ness to re­turn a still un­spec­i­fied amount of money and "a few gold bars" to help ease bud­get deficits. He in­di­cated the fam­ily still de­nied that the as­sets had been stolen as al­leged by po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents.

Pres­i­dent Mar­cos im­posed mar­tial rule a year be­fore his term was to ex­pire. He pad­locked Con­gress, or­dered the ar­rest of po­lit­i­cal ri­vals and Left-wing ac­tivists, and ruled by de­cree. His fam­ily is said to have amassed an es­ti­mated $5 bil­lion to $10 bil­lion (around ₱530 bil­lion) while he was in power.

A Hawaii court found Mar­cos li­able for hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions and awarded $2 bil­lion (₱105 bil­lon) from his es­tate to com­pen­sate more than 9,000 Filipinos who filed a law­suit against him for torture, in­car­cer­a­tion, ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings, and dis­ap­pear­ances.

Duterte has ac­knowl­edged that Imee backed his pres­i­den­tial can­di­dacy.

(AP)

MRS. MAR­COS

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