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Sandiganbayan junks ill-gotten wealth case vs. Marcos Sr., associates

The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the ill-gotten wealth case filed against the late president Ferdinand Marcos, his wife Imelda Marcos and their associates due to the failure of the prosecution "to prove its allegations by preponderance of evidence."

"A judicious perusal of the evidence on record shows that the plaintiff failed to sufficiently prove the allegations in its amended complaint. In particular, the plaintiff failed to establish that the subject properties were ill-gotten," the antigraft court's Second Division said in its ruling released on Tuesday.

The 45-page resolution was signed by Associate Justice Arthur Malabaguio and concurred in by Associate Justices Oscar Herrera Jr. an Edgardo Caldona.

Civil Case No. 0014, filed in 1987, seeks and forfeiture and recovery of certain assets and properties owned by Modesto Enriquez, Trinidad Diaz-Enriquez, Rebecco Panlilio, Erlinda Enriquez-Panlilio, Leandro Enriquez, Don Ferry, Roman Cruz Jr. and Gregorio Castillo, all of whom were alleged dummies or associates of the Marcoses.

The case alleged that the Marcoses and others accused "in unlawful concert and conspiracy with one another, acquired and accumulated with grave abuse of right and power at the expense" of the government.

The companies include the Ternate Development Corp., Monte Sol Development Corporation, Olas del Mar Development Corporation, Fantasia Filipina Resort, Inc., Sulo Dobbs, Inc., Philippine Village, Inc., Silahis International Hotel, Inc.,  Hotel Properties, Inc., Puerto Azul Beach and Country Club, and Philroad Construction Corporation.

In its decision, the Sandiganbayan said "nothing on the face of these documents" presented by the prosecution before the court "shows that Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda R. Marcos had any interest or control over the subject corporations."

The testimony of the prosecution's sole witness, the records custodian of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), was dispensed with after it was determined that she had no personal knowledge on the veracity of the documents presented in court.

The court also noted that "the bulk of the documentary evidence presented by the plaintiff are mere photocopies of the of the documents in custody of the PCGG, most of which are barely readable."

The court added that the Revised Rules of Evidence requires that the same "should abide by the Best Evidence Rule," which states that "original documents must be produced" except for some circumstances.

"Notwithstanding plaintiff's failure to abide by the Best Evidence Rule, plaintiff's testimonial and documentary evidence should still be rejected for being hearsay and uncorroborated by evidence," it said.

"This is fatal to the plaintiff's cause," the Sandiganbayan added.—Llanesca Panti/ LDF, GMA Integrated News