FILE PHOTO: Imelda Marcos
QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division on Friday (November 9) ordered the arrest of former First Lady and Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Imelda Marcos after she was found guilty of seven counts of graft.
The anti-graft court sentenced the 89-year-old former First Lady to a minimum of six years to a maximum prison term of 11 years for each count of graft with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
The decision was in connection with a case filed in 1991 when Marcos was charged with 10 counts of graft for having financial interests in creating private institutions in Switzerland and maintaining Swiss bank accounts from 1978 to 1984 while still holding several positions in the government.
The case particularly referred to Marcos’ position as then Governor of Metro Manila and Minister of Human Settlements.
The anti-graft court, however, acquitted her in three graft cases.
Among the evidence presented by the prosecution was the sworn statement of former Solicitor General Frank Chavez detailing how the former First Lady utilized their Swiss foundations to amass millions of dollars in ill-gotten wealth.
The documents also included bank records and some hand-written letters of the Marcoses addressed to foreign banks.
“There were seven Swiss foundations that were created by the Marcoses. Doon pumapasok iyong mga foreign currencies. They’d close one, then they’d transfer doon sa isa. These seven foundations ay connected sa isa’t isa,” said prosecution member Atty. Rey Quilala.
The trial on the case is the longest in the anti-graft court’s history reaching nearly three decades or 26 years.
Marcos and her legal team did not attend the promulgation. The court said Marcos can post bail while appealing the conviction and has given her 30 days to explain her absence in the proceedings before the formal issuance of warrant of arrest.
“May remedies pa naman po si First Lady. If she avails for those remedies pwede pa rin siyang makatakbo..Pwede niyang iakyat sa Supreme Court kapag may nakita siyang grave abuse of discretion doon sa desisyon ng Sandiganbayan. Hindi pa ho siya final and executory,” Quilala explained.
“Kapag nagpakita naman siya sa court, pwedeng i-lift ang warrant of arrest,” he added.
In a statement issued later in the afternoon, Rep. Marcos confirmed that she received a copy of the anti-graft court’s decision.
She explained that her lawyer was in the hospital and so they were not able to attend the promulgation.
Nevertheless, she assured to appeal the decision by filing a motion for reconsideration.
“My Attorney of Record, Atty. Robert Sison, has been indisposed and is presently confined at the Asian Hospital. Justice Lolong Lazaro, who has previously appeared as counsel in this case, will act as my counsel in the interim. He is presently studying the decision and has advised us that he intends to file a Motion for Reconsideration,” the former First Lady said. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Grace Casin)