MANILA, Philippines - The First Division of the Sandiganbayan has affirmed its ruling dismissing the P11-billion civil forfeiture case that the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) filed against Armando and Alfredo Romualdez, brothers of former first lady and incumbent Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos.
In its 12-page decision dated Jan. 31 released to the media yesterday, the First Division maintained its findings in its August 2016 ruling that the PCGG “miserably failed” to prove that that the assets of the Romualdezes it sought to recover came from the vast resources of the government.
The court also maintained that the PCGG failed to prove that the assets were illegally amassed by the Romualdezes using their connection with the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos during the martial law regime.
“Moving forward, the court, after re-assessing the evidence of the republic, both testimonial and documentary, vis-a-vis the arguments set forth in its motion for reconsideration, does not find any compelling reason to reverse and set aside, or even modify, the questioned decision on the insufficiency of the republic’s evidence,” the new resolution penned by division chairman Associate Justice Efren de la Cruz read.
Associate Justices Michael Frederick Musngi and Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega concurred with the ruling.
Filed by the PCGG in 1987, the civil forfeiture case sought to acquire P11-billion worth of assets of the Romualdezes which were allegedly amassed during martial law through illegal means.
The PCGG alleged that the assets were acquired by the respondents using monies from massive loans that their dummy corporations received during martial law from various financial institutions such as the Development Bank of the Philippines, National Investment Development Corp. and the National Grains Authority.
Among the assets that the PCGG wanted to recover were 67 parcels of land, as well as the respondents’ personal properties such as bank accounts, shares of stock in various companies, vehicles, aircraft, racehorses and livestock.
In its ruling, however, the First Division said “it is not convinced” with the PCGG’s argument that there was no need to prove that the assets came from government funds as long as there was proof that they were obtained through unlawful activities.