Imelda Marcos guilty of 1970s corruption
Former Philippines first lady faces jail, ouster from office
MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine court found former first lady Imelda Marcos guilty of graft and ordered her arrest yesterday in a rare conviction among many corruption cases that she plans to appeal to avoid jail and losing her seat in Congress.
The special anti-graft Sandiganbayan court sentenced Marcos, 89, to serve six to 11 years in prison for each of the seven counts of violating an anti-corruption law when she illegally funneled about $200 million to Swiss foundations in the 1970s as Metropolitan Manila governor.
Neither Marcos nor anyone representing her attended yesterday’s court hearing.
Marcos said in a statement that the decision was being studied by one of her lawyers who notified the Marcos family that he intends to appeal the decision. 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 the decision. Her congressional term will end next year but she has registered to run to replace her daughter as governor of northern Ilocos Norte province.
“I was jumping up and down in joy in disbelief,” said former Commission on Human Rights chairwoman Loretta Ann Rosales, who was among many activists locked up after Imelda’s husband, former President Ferdinand 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 Marcos’ husband was ousted by an armybacked “people power” revolt 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 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. They have denied any wrongdoing and have successfully fought many other corruption cases.
MARKED WOMAN: A man wearing a Zorro costume holds a photo of former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos during a protest at the University of Philippines in Manila yesterday, after Marcos, a member of the nation’s Congress, was found guilty of corruption.