Forfeiture of four Marcos properties rejected by court

THE PHILIPPINES’ anti-graft court has dismissed a government lawsuit seeking to recover at least four Marcos properties in the absence of sufficient evidence that these had been illegally obtained.

In a 12-page resolution dated July 22 and made public on Tuesday, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division said the state had failed to prove its claims “through a preponderance of evidence.”

The court affirmed its December 2019 ruling that rejected the government’s forfeiture case covering the properties still within the Marcos family’s control, including a beach house, guest house and museum in Ilocos Norte province and a house in Manila.

The dismissal covers “properties that allegedly have not yet been recovered by the government,” according to a copy of the decision written by Justice Alex L. Quiroz uploaded on the court’s website.

The court on Dec. 29, 2019 dismissed the government’s forfeiture case against the estate of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos and his family. On July 12 last year, it partially granted the state’s motion for reconsideration.

“The court resolved that a sweeping dismissal of the entire complaint on the ground of the best evidence rule (now original document rule) is not warranted, considering that many of the subject properties have long been recovered by the government,” it said in its latest ruling.

Instead, the anti-graft court ordered the government to submit a list of all the properties covered by the forfeiture lawsuit and their status.

Mr. Quiroz noted that the court had given the state the opportunity to submit further evidence, which it failed to do. In its compliance pleading dated April 25, 2022, the government said all documents and pieces of evidence had been presented during the trial.

Among the ill-gotten assets recovered by the government were shares in Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. worth P25.2 billion, shares in Philippine Telecoms Investment Corp. worth P25.2 billion, several houses in Baguio City and 526 art pieces now under the custody of the Philippine central bank. — Norman P. Aquino, J.V.D. Ordoñez and K.A.T. Atienza