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Graft court admits evidence vs Tan in ill-gotten wealth case

All evidence submitted by government lawyers in a forfeiture case against the assets of businessman Lucio Tan were admitted by the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division. The graft court in a five-page resolution issued on August 2 overruled all objections raised by Tan, his companies, his estranged-brother Mariano Tanenglian, and the Marcos family concerning the various exhibits. “After due consideration of the arguments as well as the position of the plaintiff and the defendants, the Court resolves to admit all the exhibits offered by the plaintiff, over the objections of the defendants, …subject to the Court’s final evaluation and appreciation of the purpose, materiality, relevancy and probative value of the exhibits in relation to the issues involved in this case," the court declared. Among the testimonies admitted by the court were the deposition of banker Rolando Gapud and testimonies given on the witness stand by Sen. Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. and former PCGG chairman Jovito Salonga. His father, Senator Marcos said, advised him to study Tan’s businesses so the young Marcos could personally handle their holdings in those businesses. In his testimony, Salonga testified that Tan offered P500 million to settle the case out of court in 1986 but then President Corazon C. Aquino turned down the offer. The defense will present its own evidence at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday – more than 23 years after the complaint was filed. The court compelled government lawyers to conclude their presentation on Feb. 12 after repeatedly failing to present witnesses, including former First Lady Imelda Marcos whose testimonies were supposedly crucial to the state’s case. Civil Case No. 0005 was originally filed in July 1987 and had since been amended twice, the last on Sept. 5, 1991. The State is entitled to recover 60 percent of Tan’s holdings in companies the business tycoon supposedly held in trust for former President Ferdinand Marcos, according to the Presidential Commission on Good Government. The companies include Fortune Tobacco Corp., Asia Brewery Inc., Allied Banking Corp., Foremost Farms, Himmel Industries Inc., Grandspan Development Corp., Silangan Holdings Inc., Dominium Realty and Construction Corp., and Shareholdings Inc. Marcos' holdings in Tan’s companies were illegally acquired by the former strongman using government funds, the PCGG alleged. The Marcos family also staked its claim on the same chunk of Tan’s assets asserting that the late President Marcos obtained those assets by legitimate means. In a 130-page comment filed through lawyer Estelito Mendoza on May 10, Tan objected to the admission of government’s documentary exhibits on grounds that most of these were photocopies and that the originals were not presented for examination by the parties involved. Mendoza argued that a single sheet of the almost 300 documents marked by lawyers of the PCGG and the Office of the Solicitor General supports the government’s allegation that the disputed assets formerly belonged to it. —VS, GMANews.TV