Sandiganbayan forfeits Marcos ill-gotten wealth in favor of gov’t

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    THE Sandiganbayan Third Division has declared that shares in three sequestered companies in Civil Case no. 0009 were part of the unlawful assets of former President Ferdinand Marcos and ordered them forfeited in favor of the Philippine government.

    The 142-page decision penned by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang was promulgated December 4, 2019 but was only released to media late yesterday, with Associates Justices Bernelito R. Fernandez and Sarah Jane T. Fernandez concurring.

    It brought to a close 32 years of litigation from the filing of the original complaint back in July 1987.

    Based on a list released by the Presidential Commission on Good Government containing a summary of disputed assets sought for recovery from the Marcos family and their close associates, the government is hoping to recover P2.758 billion under Civil Case no. 0009.

    The sum includes P2.756 billion in various shares of stocks and another P2.274 million in real properties.

    Specifically covered by the court ruling were Eastern Telecommunications Philippines Inc. (ETPI) shares in the names of Jose L. Africa and Manuel H. Nieto Jr.; Polygon Investors and Managers Inc.; Aerocom Investors and Managers Inc.; and small individual shareholders held by Victor Africa, Lourdes Africa, Rosario Songco, Raquel Dinglasan, Manuel Nieto III, Ramon Nieto, Victoria Legarda, Ma. Rita Delos Reyes, Rosario Arellano, Angelo Lobregat, Benito Nieto, Carlos Nieto, Carmen Tuazon and Rafael Valdes.

    “Wherefore, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the shares …are ill-gotten wealth of defendant Ferdinand Marcos; hence should be reverted/reconveyed to the Republic of the Philippines,” the Sandiganbayan said.

    Africa and Nieto as well their legal heirs were ordered to reconvey to the Philippines their shares in ETPI, including all stock and cash dividends received and interest they may have earned.

    Aerocom Investors was directed to pay the government P68.17 million equivalent to the value of its ETPI shares that were earlier transferred to ISM Communication Corp on July 11, 2005.

    In addition, Africa and Nieto were told to pay the government P1 million as exemplary damages.

    However, the court dismissed the government’s claims against former President Marcos, former First Lady Imelda Marcos, and former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile “for failure of the Republic to establish preponderance of evidence against them.

    Likewise, the court dismissed counterclaims filed by Enrile, the Marcoses, Nieo and Africa against the Republic of the Philippines for failure to present evidence.

    Based on the original complaint Civil Case no. 0009 filed in July 1987, the government alleged that the defendants conspired among themselves in a scheme to “monopolize the telecommunications industry” by “manipulating the purchase of the major stockholding of London-based Cable and Wireless Limited in ETPI”.

    Named respondents were former President Marcos, former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos, Africa, Nieto, Roberto Benedicto, Potenciano Ilusorio, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and losing vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.