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Judge inhibits from P200-B Marcos forfeiture case

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A Sandiganbayan justice inhibited himself from the P200 billion forfeiture case against former President Ferdinand Marcos and his surviving family members.

In a two-page Resolution, the Sandiganbayan’s Special Fourth Division said it resolved the motion filed by Marcos’ wife and former Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos and their daughter, Irene, seeking the inhibition of Associate Justice  Zaldy Trespeses, after the latter voluntarily removed himself from the proceedings to ensure impartiality.

The Marcoses sought Trespeses’ inhibition by citing Trespeses’ previous stint as part of the legal team of then Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno when Sereno penned the High Court’s ruling which reinstated Irene and her brother, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., as defendants in the P200 billion forfeiture case pending before the Sandiganbayan.

“While it is true that undersigned [Trespeses] was working as Court Attorney of Justice Sereno at the time the Decision in G.R. No. 171701 was penned by her [in February 2012], he was not privy to the proceedings and deliberations involved in the said case. Nonetheless, to put defendants' minds at rest regarding the Court's utmost impartiality, and in order to avoid even the appearance of impropriety or irregularity, undersigned voluntarily inhibits from this case in the higher interest of justice,” the resolution read.

“In an Order dated 13 June 2019, the Court (Sandiganbayan) granted the prosecution a period of 10 days within which to file its comment/opposition thereto. Without waiting for the prosecution's comment/opposition, undersigned [Trespeses] hereby resolves defendants' motion.”

The P200 billion forfeiture case, filed by the Office of the Solicitor General in 1987, seeks to recover the Marcoses' ill-gotten wealth “which they acquired during their incumbency as public officers; funds and other property are manifestly out of proportion to their salaries/other lawful income and income from legitimately acquired property which defendants have failed to establish as having been lawfully acquired."

The Sandiganbayan’s Internal Rules drafted in November 2018 provides that any vacancy in the Special Division will be filled via a raffle from among the other members of the Sandiganbayan to complete the anti-graft court's Special Division of five members.

Also in November 2018, the Sandiganbayan announced that the P200 billion forfeiture case against the Marcoses was up for resolution. — DVM, GMA News

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