Monday, June 25, 2018
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With Due Respect

Supreme Court on Marcos

On Feb. 26, I discussed the case of Estate of Marcos vs Republic (Jan. 18, 2017), which labelled as ill-gotten and forfeited in favor of the State the “pieces of jewelry known as the Malacañang Collection.”

Plundering regime. I also pointed to two other cases: 1) Republic vs Sandiganbayan, (July 15, 2003) which forfeited $658,175,373.60 in Swiss banks, and 2) Marcos Jr. vs Republic (April 25, 2012) which forfeited $3,369,975 “as of 1983.”

Readers (notably, some history teachers) asked: Apart from these, were there other decisions showing how Ferdinand Marcos accumulated ill-gotten wealth? Yes, the Court, in Yuchengco vs Sandiganbayan (Jan. 20, 2006), said:


“In PCGG v. Pena, this Court, describing the rule of Marcos as a well-entrenched plundering regime of twenty years, noted the magnitude of the past regime’s organized pillage and the ingenuity of the plunderers and pillagers with the assistance of the experts and best legal minds…”

Ingenious plan. In that early case of PCGG vs Pena (April 12, 1988), the Court cited an example of how Marcos ingeniously hid his ill-gotten wealth: “In the ongoing case filed by the government to recover from the Marcoses valuable real estate holdings in New York and the Lindenmere estate in Long Island, former PCGG chairman Jovito Salonga has revealed that their names do not appear on any title to the property. Every building in New York is titled in the name of a Netherlands

Antilles Corporation, which in turn is purportedly owned by three Panamanian corporations, with bearer shares. This means that the shares of this corporation can change hands any time, since they can be transferred, under the law of Panama, without previous registration on the books of the corporation. One of the first documents that we discovered shortly after the February revolution was a declaration of trust handwritten by Mr. Joseph Bernstein on April 4, 1982 on a Manila Peninsula Hotel stationery stating that he would act as a trustee for the benefit of President Ferdinand Marcos and would act solely pursuant to the instructions of Marcos with respect to the Crown Building in New York. Were it not for this stroke of good fortune, it would have been impossible, legally and technically, to prove and recover this ill-gotten wealth from the deposed President and his family, although their ownership of these fabulous real estate holdings [was] a matter of public notoriety.”

In other cases, the Court described the Marcos years as “a dark chapter in our history” (Licaros vs Sandiganbayan, Oct. 18, 2004) and a regime of “national trauma” (Republic vs Tuvera, Feb. 16, 2007). Worse, in Galman vs Sandiganbayan (Sept 12, 1986), the Court charged Marcos with stage-managing court proceedings:

Mockery of judicial process. “The Court … holds … that the then President (code named Olympus) had stage-managed in and from Malacañang Palace ‘a scripted and pre-determined manner of handling and disposing of the Aquino-Galman murder case;’ and that ‘the prosecution in the Aquino Galman case and the Justices who tried and decided the same acted under the compulsion of some pressure which proved to be beyond their capacity to resist, and which not only prevented the prosecution to fully ventilate its position and to offer all the evidences which it could have otherwise presented, but also pre-determined the final outcome of the case’ of total absolution of the

twenty-six respondents accused of all criminal and civil liability. xxx

“The record shows suffocatingly that from beginning to end, the then President used, or more precisely, misused the overwhelming resources of the government and his authoritarian powers to corrupt and make a mockery of the judicial process in the Aquino-Galman murder cases. xxx

“Indeed, the secret Malacañang conference at which the authoritarian President called together the Presiding Justice of


the Sandiganbayan and Tanodbayan Fernandez and the entire prosecution panel headed by Deputy Tanodbayan Herrera and told them how to handle and rig

(moro-moro) the trial and the close monitoring of the entire proceedings to assure the predetermined ignominious final outcome are without parallel and precedent in our annals and jurisprudence.”

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