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.