Imelda’s con­vic­tion

Sun.Star Cebu - - OPINION - BONG O. WENCES­LAO khan­wens@gmail.com

The Sandi­gan­bayan 5th Divi­sion has found for­mer first lady Imelda Mar­cos guilty in seven counts of graft com­mit­ted when she was Min­is­ter of Hu­man Set­tle­ments un­der the dic­ta­tor­ship of her hus­band Fer­di­nand Mar­cos.

The Imeldific was sen­tenced to im­pris­on­ment of from six years and one month to 11 years for each of the seven counts. But don’t re­joice yet. She still has op­tions, like go­ing to the Supreme Court to seek a re­ver­sal of her con­vic­tion.

The case stemmed from her sup­posed use of her po­si­tion to main­tain Swiss bank ac­counts where pub­lic funds were be­ing fun­neled into. Of course, it’s com­mon knowl­edge that it is not only Imelda who has main­tained Swiss bank ac­counts. The Real Ma­coy, her hus­band, also did so and so prob­a­bly did their chil­dren. But that could be sub­ject of an­other col­umn.

When I heard about the con­vic­tion, I wasn’t ec­static for a num­ber of rea­sons. One, the rul­ing is sev­eral decades too late (con­sider that she is al­ready 89 years old), she still can avail of le­gal reme­dies, as pointed out by Pres­i­den­tial Spokesper­son Sal­vador Panelo (can the cur­rent Supreme Court go against a Mar­cos?) and she can hide be­hind the skirt (“saya”) of pol­i­tics.

The Mar­coses and the other peo­ple who abused their power dur­ing the Mar­cos dic­ta­tor­ship ac­tu­ally sur­vived by ex­ploit­ing the weak­nesses of our demo­cratic pro­cesses. They are even suc­ceed­ing in warp­ing pub­lic per­cep­tion of the Mar­cos years by pre­sent­ing a re­vi­sion­ist view of his­tory.

Imelda is run­ning for gover­nor of the Mar­cos po­lit­i­cal baili­wick Ilo­cos Norte af­ter serv­ing for three terms as Ilo­cos Norte rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. With­out fi­nal con­vic­tion, she wouldn’t be dis­qual­i­fied by the Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions (Com­elec) and con­sid­er­ing the Mar­cos fam­ily’s po­lit­i­cal hold on that prov­ince she could be gover­nor suc­ceed­ing her daugh­ter Imee.

The Mar­coses’ po­lit­i­cal hold on Ilo­cos Norte is one of the rea­sons na­tional politi­cians are le­nient on them. Pres­i­dent Duterte, for ex­am­ple, is fond of the Real Ma­coy’s son, Fer­di­nand Mar­cos Jr. or Bong­bong. When you have an in­flu­ence on the most pow­er­ful man in the coun­try, then you are safe.

And can she evade prison? Her age, her po­lit­i­cal clout and her wealth are ac­tu­ally con­spir­ing in her fa­vor. Just look at for­mer sen­a­tor Juan Ponce En­rile, who could have stayed in jail af­ter a plun­der case was filed against him. The High Court al­lowed him to post bail for health and other rea­sons, in­clud­ing his age (he is al­ready 94 years old).

As for the con­vic­tion, how many times have court rul­ings been blunted by the le­gal ma­neu­ver­ing of the in­flu­en­tial? On this, I re­mem­ber busi­ness­man and for­mer Mar­cos crony Ed­uardo “Dand­ing” Co­juangco who, by merely hold­ing out, ended up get­ting some fa­vor­able court de­ci­sions. And who would have thought that a Supreme Court would al­low the burial of Fer­di­nand Mar­cos at the Libin­gan ng mga Bayani?

So I am skep­ti­cal about the Sandi­gan­bayan rul­ing. Still, there are ram­i­fi­ca­tions that I like. At least the re­vis­ers of his­tory can no longer claim that no Mar­cos has been con­victed of graft. The plun­der of the gov­ern­ment cof­fers by the Mar­coses is real. Now we can point to the Sandi­gan­bayan rul­ing to prop up that claim.

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