February 25, 2018, 7:46 am
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How Lady Justice slept for 30 years

NEARLY 30 years after the filing of Civil Case no. 0033, the original coconut levy lawsuit, in July 1987, the Sandiganbayan ruled with finality that former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile was included in case by, er… uhmm… an unfortunate mistake.

With the ruling, Enrile was dropped as co-defendant of businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr., the Marcos couple, and several others in Civil Case No. 0033-H, one of the sub-divided cases of the 1987 complaint when it was split into eight in 1995.

Based on the amended complaint filed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), Enrile and the rest were accused of conspiracy in obtaining a P603.343 million loan in 1981 from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) in favor of Cojuangco’s firm, Northern Cement Corp., allegedly despite insufficient collateral and short capitalization.

The same set of respondents was accused of drawing behest loans amounting to P70 million from the Philippine Tourism Authority for two other firms, Holiday Village Hotel Phiippines, Inc. and Coral Island Resort and Development Corp, allegedly controlled by Marcos associates Manuel “Manda” Elizalde Jr., Jose Aspiras, and Cojuangco.

Also in the same case was an allegation that another Cojuangco-run company, Southern Textile Mills Inc., took over the plant, machineries and equipment of Alpha Integrated Textile Mills Inc.

In his motion filed way back on May 15, 2001, Enrile pointed out that the subdivided complaint failed to specify what unlawful action he was supposed to have committed to warrant his inclusion as a respondent in the case. He noted that neither the complaint nor the pre-trial brief submitted by the PCGG made mention of a basis for the case against him.

Without submitting any reply, the Office of the Solicitor General verbally moved to submit the issue for resolution.

The court, in a resolution dated December 20, 2004 ruled to exclude Enrile.

Government lawyers filed a motion for reconsideration on January 12, 2005. Enrile filed his opposition the following month.

And the matter slept for the next 12 years until the resolution was issued last April 17, 2017 affirming the previous finding of the anti-graft court that there was no ground to include Enrile as a defendant.

“An examination of the (complaint) shows the absence of any statement of the acts or omissions committed by defendant Enrile with regard to the abovementioned transactions constituting plaintiff’s cause of action,” the court said.

It said the PCGG’s broad allegation of “misappropriation and theft of public funds, plunder of the nation’s wealth, extortion, blackmail, bribery, embezzlement and other acts of corruption, betrayal of public trust, and brazen abuse of power …at the expense and to the grave and irreparable damage of Plaintiff (Republic of the Philippines) and the Filipino people” did not give Enrile any idea of what exactly he was being accused of and how he can defend himself.
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