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Imelda, Irene Marcos urge Sandiganbayan to reject evidence in forfeiture of alleged ill-gotten paintings

Outgoing Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos and her daughter, Irene Marcos-Araneta, have urged the Sandiganbayan to reject the evidence of the government in their 28-year-old civil case on the forfeiture of alleged ill-gotten paintings.

The Marcoses filed a 125-page manifestation before the Special First Division last month, arguing that most of the Presidential Commission on Good Government's (PCGG) evidence against them be nullified for supposed lack of authenticity.

"Wherefore, it is respectfully prayed that the foregoing exhibits be denied admissibility. Other reliefs just and equitable are likewise prayed for under the premises," the dispositive portion of their manifestation read.

The manifestation referred to Civil Case No. 0141, which involves the recovery of billions of dollars worth of properties allegedly acquired through the ill-gotten wealth of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and his family.

The case is clustered into 18 categories. Among the notable properties in the case include the recovery of $658 million in secret deposits in Swiss banks that are now under escrow at the Philippine National Bank and about 200 artworks now worth more around $24 million.

However, the Marcoses said the PCGG failed to prove when they allegedly acquired the artworks. They said the PCGG only relied on its own list of missing artworks the list of paintings found in the Goldenberg and Tues Mansions in Manila.

"Petitioner's [PCGG] offer is to render a list of paintings allegedly acquired by the Marcos spouses, 'during their incumbencies as public offices.' Such document is irrelevant for this purpose as it does not indicate the date when the paintings were alleged to be acquired, thus, this document is irrelevant to prove that it was acquired during the Marcos' incumbencies as public officers," they said.

They added both lists should be junked from the records since its authenticity was only verified by the government witnesses themselves.

The Marcoses said the list of paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila must also be excluded for not being the original document and that the witness had no knowledge of its preparation.

Another evidence assailed by the respondents was a compact disc containing photographs and videos from the Goldenberg Mansion ocular inspection and news reports showing the paintings displayed by the elder Marcos.

"No photographer or any other competent witness testified to its exactness and accuracy. Thus, these photographs and videos were not properly presented and authenticated before this court under the Rules for Electronic Evidence," the Marcoses said.

Other documents with supposed questionable authenticity are several correspondence from the late Armand Hammer and Hammer Galleries president emeritus Richard Lynch.

The PCGG, with the Office of the Solicitor General as its counsel, submitted its formal offer early this year after wrapping up its case against the Marcoses in 2018.

In November 2018, the Sandiganbayan found Imelda guilty of seven counts of graft for allegedly creating foundations in Switzerland so she can funnel public funds meant to benefit her family. 

The Sandiganbayan sentenced Imelda to six to 11 years imprisonment "for each count," but she was allowed to post bail as she appeals the conviction at the Supreme Court.

The Marcos family and their cronies have at least 23 civil cases pending at the Sandiganbayan. — RSJ, GMA News