Mar­cos found guilty of cor­rup­tion

Irish Examiner - - World News - Deb Riech­mann

A Philip­pine court has found the coun­try’s for­mer first lady Imelda Mar­cos guilty of cor­rup­tion charges and or­dered her ar­rest.

Mar­cos is to ap­peal against the con­vic­tion in a bid to avoid jail and los­ing her seat in con­gress.

A spe­cial Sandi­gan­bayan court sen­tenced Mar­cos, 89, to serve six to 11 years in prison for each of the seven counts of vi­o­lat­ing an an­ti­cor­rup­tion law when she il­le­gally fun­nelled about £152 mil­lion to Swiss foun­da­tions in the 1970s as met­ro­pol­i­tan Manila gover­nor.

Nei­ther Mar­cos nor any­one rep­re­sent­ing her at­tended the court hear­ing.

Anti-Mar­cos ac­tivists and hu­man rights vic­tims wel­comed the con­vic­tion as long over­due.

The court dis­qual­i­fied Mar­cos from hold­ing pub­lic of­fice, but she can re­main a mem­ber of the pow­er­ful house of rep­re­sen­ta­tives while ap­peal­ing against the de­ci­sion.

Her con­gres­sional term will end next year but she has reg­is­tered to run to re­place her daugh­ter as gover­nor of the north­ern Ilo­cos Norte prov­ince.

Imelda Mar­cos’ hus­band, ex-pres­i­dent Fer­di­nand Mar­cos, was ousted by an army­backed “peo­ple power” re­volt in 1986. He died in self­ex­ile in Hawaii in 1989 but his widow and chil­dren re- turned to the Philip­pines. Most have been elected to pub­lic of­fice in an im­pres­sive po­lit­i­cal come­back.

Gov­ern­ment pros­e­cu­tor Ryan Quilala told re­porters that Mar­cos 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 through­out the coun­try.

They have de­nied any wrong­do­ing and have suc­cess­fully fought many other cor­rup­tion cases.

Imelda Mar­cos was ac­quit­ted yes­ter­day in three other cases, which were filed in 1991 and took nearly three decades of trial by sev­eral judges and pros­e­cu­tors.

She was once con­victed of a cor­rup­tion case in 1993, but the supreme court later cleared her of any wrong­do­ing.

Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Du terte, an ally of the Mar­cos es, said last year that the fam­ily had in­di­cated a will­ing­ness to re­turn an un­spec­i­fied amount of money and “a few gold bars” to help ease Philip­pine bud­get deficits.

He in­di­cated the fam­ily still de­nies that the as­sets had been stolen, as al­leged by their po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents.

Fer­di­nand Mar­cos placed the Philip­pines un­der mar­tial rule a year be­fore his term in of­fice 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 £4-8 bil­lion dol­lars while he was in power.

Imelda Mar­cos: De­nies charges.

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