IMELDA CON­VIC­TION ‘PROOF’ OF PALACE’S NON-IN­TER­VEN­TION

Sandi­gan­bayan Fifth Divi­sion finds Mar­cos guilty of seven counts of graft The de­ci­sion came nearly three decades since the om­buds­man lodged 10 graft cases against her The Ilo­cos Norte law­maker can still post a bond for her tem­po­rary lib­erty and chal­leng

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The anti-graft court’s or­der to ar­rest for­mer first lady and cur­rent Ilo­cos Norte Rep. Imelda Mar­cos for seven counts of graft merely demon­strates that the coun­try’s “work­ing and im­par­tial” jus­tice sys­tem “fa­vors no one,” Malacañang said on Fri­day, Nov. 9.

The Sandi­gan­bayan Fifth Divi­sion has found Mar­cos guilty of seven counts of graft for us­ing her Cab­i­net po­si­tion to main­tain Swiss bank ac­counts dur­ing the regime of her hus­band, the late dic­ta­tor Fer­di­nand Mar­cos.

“While we note that there are still le­gal reme­dies avail­able to Con­gress­woman Mar­cos, this lat­est devel­op­ment un­der­scores that our coun­try cur­rently has a work­ing and im­par­tial jus­tice sys­tem that fa­vors no one,” Pres­i­den­tial Spokesper­son Sal­vador Panelo said in a state­ment.

Mar­cos was the min­is­ter of Hu­man Set­tle­ments, Metro Manila gover­nor, and a mem­ber of the In­terim Bayasan Pam­bansa dur­ing her hus­band’s dic­ta­tor­ship from 1965 to 1986.

She was sen­tenced to im­pris­on­ment of six years and one month to 11 years for each count of graft.

The Ilo­cos Norte law­maker, who is run­ning for Ilo­cos Norte gover­nor in the 2019 midterm elec­tions, was also per­pet­u­ally dis­qual­i­fied from pub­lic of­fice.

The Sandi­gan­bayan Fifth Divi­sion said Mar­cos can still post a bond for her tem­po­rary lib­erty and chal­lenge the court’s de­ci­sion.

Panelo said the court’s de­ci­sion against the 89-year-old Mar­cos was proof that the Duterte gov­ern­ment is not med­dling “in the af­fairs of an­other sep­a­rate and in­de­pen­dent branch of the gov­ern­ment.”

“The Ex­ec­u­tive Branch is not in the busi­ness of ex­ert­ing un­due in­ter­fer­ence or in­flu­ence in the af­fairs of an­other sep­a­rate and in­de­pen­dent branch of the gov­ern­ment,” he said.

“As such, we man­i­fest our re­spect to the de­ci­sion of the Sandi­gan­bayan find­ing for­mer First Lady and in­cum­bent Ilo­cos Norte Rep. Imelda Mar­cos guilty of the seven out of the 10 cases filed against her,” the Palace of­fi­cial added.

The de­ci­sion came nearly three decades since the Of­fice of the Om­buds­man lodged 10 graft cases against her. She was ac­quit­ted of three counts of graft.

The case against Mar­cos stemmed from al­le­ga­tions that she had fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests in pri­vate foun­da­tions in Switzer­land she cre­ated while she was in pub­lic of­fice.

The Mar­cos fam­ily has also been ac­cused of stash­ing around $10 bil­lion in hid­den banks ac- counts over­seas.

The Pres­i­den­tial Com­mis­sion on Good Gov­ern­ment, tasked to re­cover the Mar­coses’ ill-got­ten wealth, has al­ready re­cov­ered P170 bil­lion they pur­port­edly looted.

In Septem­ber 2017, Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte raised the pos­si­bil­ity of grant­ing the Mar­cos fam­ily im­mu­nity from crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion in ex­change for the re­turn of part of their hid­den wealth.

Duterte’s pre­vi­ous of­fer came af­ter the Mar­cos fam­ily had al­legedly ex­pressed will­ing­ness to re­turn “a few gold bars.”

Panelo said the rul­ing against the Ilo­cos law­maker should en­cour­age all work­ers in gov­ern­ment to main­tain their “pro­fes­sion­al­ism, fidelity, and in­tegrity” in serv­ing the pub­lic.

“We treat this de­ci­sion by the anti-graft court as a good re­minder to all pub­lic ser­vants that pub­lic of­fice is a pub­lic trust and that we are all ac­count­able to the peo­ple we serve,” he said.

“As ser­vants of the peo­ple, we must there­fore carry out our du­ties not only with pro­fes­sion­al­ism and fidelity but most im­por­tantly, with in­tegrity,” he added.

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