By REY PANALIGAN
The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed a government’s petition to recover P51 billion in alleged ill-gotten wealth and damages against the estate of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos and his so-called cronies.
In a decision written by Justice Noel G. Tijam, the SC affirmed the 2010 and 2011 rulings handed down by the Sandiganbayan which dismissed the complaint for reconveyance, reversion, restitution and damages filed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).
Named in the PCGG complaint filed 31 years ago were former First Lady Imelda Marcos, representing the Marcos, businessman Rodolfo Cuenca and his son Roberto Cuenca, former Philippine National Bank president Panfilo O. Domingo, former Trade Minister Roberto Ongpin, former Development Bank of the Philippines officer Don Ferry, and 11 others.
The PCGG claimed that the Marcoses and their so-called cronies engaged in “schemes, devices or stratagems” to acquire ill-gotten assets.
It accused Cuenca and the Marcoses of collusion to put up the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines (CDCP), the predecessor of the Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC), to obtain ill-gotten wealth through through contracts and behest loans from various government financial institutions, among others.
In 2010, the Sandiganbayan dismissed the complaint for insufficiency of evidence, as it noted that the evidence presented by the PCGG consisted of executive issuances of then President Marcos and of court decisions and resolutions.
The anti-graft court noted that the executive issuances are not per se illegal considering that every public official is entitled to presumption of good faith in the discharge of official duties.
In upholding the Sandiganbayan’s rulings, the SC said:
“Juxtaposing the specific allegations in the complaint with the Republic’s documentary and testimonial evidence and as against the respondents’ documentary and testimonial evidence showing the due organization and existence of CDCP, the Court agrees with the Sandiganbayan that the weight of evidence fails to preponderate in the Republic’s favor.
Neither •were the Presidential issuances nor the witnesses’ testimonies sufficient to prove the allegations in the Republic’s complaint.
“It bears stressing that it is upon the Republic to prove the allegations in its complaint. It is therefore imperative that the operative act on how and in what manner the respondents participated in amassing ill-gotten wealth be demonstrated through preponderance of evidence. In case of failure to do so, the Republic’s complaint will merit nothing but denial.”