Another win for the Marcoses
As the 34th anniversary of the people power revolt approached, the Sandiganbayan presented an ugly gift to those who fought the Marcos dictatorship: an affirmation of the court’s dismissal of a P102-billion civil forfeiture case filed by the government against the Marcoses and several of their alleged cronies.
In tossing out the appeal on Feb. 13, Sandiganbayan Second Division Justices Oscar Herrera Jr., Michael Frederick Musngi and Lorifel Lacap Pahimna ruled that the Presidential Commission on Good Government, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, presented no new arguments or evidence to warrant the reversal of the August 2019 ruling of the anti-graft court.
This is just the latest legal victory for the dictator and his heirs, who have seen a dramatic reversal of their political fortunes since being driven from power in the uprising that began on Feb. 22, 1986. After 34 years, only Imelda Marcos has been convicted of a crime related to the illegal accumulation of mind-boggling wealth. Because the crime of plunder was not yet in the statute books during the dictatorship, the former first lady has been found guilty only of graft, which has allowed her to remain free on bail while she is appealing her conviction.
In the latest case, cleared by the Sandiganbayan along with Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos were their alleged cronies Jose Africa, Rodolfo Arambulo, Cynthia Cheong, Don Ferry, Placido Mapa Jr., Ramon Monzon, Ma. Luisa Nograles, Generosa Olazo, Rafael Sison, Jose Tengco Jr. and Leopoldo Vergara.
In the meantime, Imelda Marcos is battling efforts by the government to recover more assets from her family, including priceless artwork by the masters. Not by any stretch of the imagination could the conjugal dictatorship have been able to afford paintings by the likes of Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso even on the combined 20-year salaries of the Philippine president and his wife, who was also Greater Manila governor and human settlements minister.
Either justice has been sold to the highest bidder, or else the OSG is too busy running after ABS-CBN and perceived enemies of the state to focus on winning a major case against the Marcoses. Perhaps the will to win isn’t even there. And because there is the perception that you can rob people blind in this country without fear of punishment, it should not be surprising that corruption has become endemic.