THE Sandiganbayan First Division yesterday rendered a partial summary judgment in Civil Case No. 0141 declaring the Marcos family’s entire art collections as ill-gotten wealth and ordering their forfeiture in favor of government.
Associate Justice Efren N. de la Cruz penned the 42-page ruling with Associate Justices Alex L. Quiroz and Oscar C. Herrera Jr. concurring.
“Partial Summary Judgment is hereby rendered declaring the paintings and artworks as unlawfully acquired, and are therefore forfeited in favor of the petitioner Republic of the Philippines,” the anti-graft court declared.
The recovery of the Marcos art collection marks the fourth straight victory for the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) in securing partial summary judgments over disputed assets covered by Civil Case no. 0141.
In 2003, the PCGG won the forfeiture of $658 million held in several secret Swiss foundations created by the late President Ferdinand Marcos and his widow, former First Lady Imelda Marcos.
This was followed by the Sandiganbayan’s January 13, 2014 award to the State of the so-called Malacañang jewelry collection of Mrs. Marcos valued at $153,089, and by the $42 million Arelma accounts which was declared owned by the government on August 18, 2014.
Mrs. Marcos and the estate and heirs of Ferdinand Marcos tried to fight off the forfeiture on several grounds, including a challenge on jurisdiction, allegation of forum shopping, and inadmissibility of testimonies of government witnesses.
The Sandiganbayan, however, swept aside all the defendants’ arguments, declaring that the evidence concurred with all the requirements set in the law for forfeiture of unexplained wealth.
“RA 1379 provides that whenever any public officer or employee has acquired during his incumbency an amount of property manifestly out of proportion to his salary …and to his other lawful income, said property shall be presumed prima facie to have been unlawfully acquired,” the court said.
In the case of the Marcoses, the Sandiganbayan pointed out that they failed to substantiate how they lawfully acquired funds to be able to afford the acquisition of a massive collection of paintings and artworks.
Testimonies and documents were offered in court that the Marcos couple accumulated the pieces of artworks between 1972 to 1985 with the grand total of $24,325,500 mostly through the then First Lady’s close associates and her personal secretary Fe Roa Gimenez.
“In sum, petitioner Republic was able to establish the prima facie presumption that the paintings and artworks valued at US$24,325,500 acquired by the respondent spouses were significantly out of proportion to their aggregate salaries of $304,372.43 as public officials,” the Sandiganbayan said.
Among those ordered returned to the government were the “PCGG List of Missing Artworks” consisting of 156 paintings including three Monets, a Chagall, two Utrillos, and two Picassos; the collection of Grandma Moses Paintings; various pieces of sculptures and prints under the custody and safekeeping of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila’s Art Collection; and others supposedly being held by “agents, representatives, nominees and persons acting on behalf” of the Marcoses.
The court ordered the family and said agents, representatives and nominees to cease and desist from disposing, transferring or selling the artworks and to render an accounting of all such assets still in their control as well as those that have already been sold.
They were likewise directed to “surrender the paintings and/or divulge their current location.”