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SC junks gov't plea on ill-gotten wealth raps vs. Marcos

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The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld a decision of the Sandiganbayan dismissing the Philippine government's motion to admit supplemental offer of evidence in a civil case it filed against former President Ferdinand Marcos and several others for alleged ill-gotten wealth, which was bestowed to other corporations.

This was after the SC en banc denied the motion for reconsideration (MR) of the government since the issues raised therein were mere rehashed arguments.

In a two-page resolution dated March 13, 2012 and signed by SC en banc Clerk of Court Atty. Enriqueta Vidal, the SC maintained its 7-7 decision and junked the government's appeal for lack of merit.

"After considering the arguments raised in the motion for reconsideration (of the Court's December 13, 2011 Decision) filed by the Republic of the Philippines (petitioner), the Court resolves to deny the same for lack of merit," the decision said.

The SC said that "as stated in the last part of the December 13, 2011 Decision, as early as December 6, 2011 the en banc already deliberated on the case and failed to arrive at a conclusive decision because of a tie vote, which resulted in the re-voting on December 13, 2011 with same results. Since the Court remained equally divided after the re-voting, the December 13, 2011 Decision of the Court prevails."

The SC also dismissed the government's request for Chief Justice Renato Corona to voluntarily inhibit from participating in the case in view of his pending impeachment trial at the Senate.

"The Court also resolves to deny the petitioner's additional prayer that the Chief Justice voluntarily recuse himself from participating in the case. The Chief Justice had already weighed the merits of the case and voted on the main decision even before he was hastily impeached on December 12, 2011," it said.

It can be recalled that with a vote of 7-7, with one Justice taking no part, the SC en banc dismissed the petition for lack of merit filed by the Republic of the Philippines, through the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).
The SC upheld the Feb. 7, 2002 resolution of the Sandiganbayan.

The half of the winning justices were Corona; Associate Justices Arturo Brion; Diosdado Peralta; Lucas Bersamin; Mariano del Castillo; Jose Perez; and Jose Mendoza.
Those who maintained their dissents were Associate Justices Antonio Carpio; Presbitero Velasco, Jr.; Roberto Abad; Martin Villarama, Jr.; Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno; Bienvenido Reyes; and Estela Perlas-Bernabe while Teresita Leonardo-De Castro maintained her inhibition since the case originated from the Sandiganbayan, wherein she was a former member.

The PCGG filed a complaint on July 22, 1987 against Jose Africa; Manuel Nieto, Jr.; Ferdinand Marcos; Imelda Marcos; Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.; Juan Ponce Enrile; and Potenciano Ilusorio for reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution, and damages before the Sandiganbayan.
It alleged that the respondents illegally manipulated the purchase of the major shareholdings of Cable and Wireless Limited in Eastern Telecommunications Philippines, Inc. (ETPI), which shareholdings respondents Africa and Nieto, Jr. held for themselves and, through their holdings and the corporations they organized, beneficially for respondents Ferdinand and Imelda.

In the Aug. 7, 1991 PCGG-conducted ETPI stockholders meeting, a PCGG-controlled board of directors was elected.
Later, the registered ETPI stockholders convened a special stockholders meeting wherein another set of board of directors was elected.
As a result, two sets of ETPI board and officers were elected.

Africa, as an ETPI stockholder, filed a petition for certiorari, with prayer for a temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction with the Sandiganbayan seeking to nullify the Aug. 5, 1991 and Aug. 9, 1991 orders of the PCGG.

These orders directed Africa to account for his sequestered shares in ETPI and to cease and desist from exercising voting rights on the sequestered shares in the special stockholders' meeting to be held on Aug. 12, 1991, from representing himself as a director, officer, employee or agent of ETPI, and from participating, directly or indirectly in the management of ETPI.

During the pendency of Africa's petition, he filed a motion with the Sandiganbayan, alleging that since Jan. 29, 1988 the PCGG had been "illegally 'exercising' the rights of stockholders of ETPI," especially in the election of the members of the board of directors.
Africa prayed for the issuance of an order for the "calling and holding of (ETPI) annual stockholders' meeting for 1992 under the [c]ourt's control and supervision and prescribed guidelines."

The PCGG assailed this resolution before the SC via a petition for certiorari imputing grave abuse of discretion on the Sandiganbayan for holding, inter alia, that the registered stockholders of ETPI had the right to vote.

It filed its third motion on Nov. 16, 2001 seeking once more the admission of the bane deposition (Deposition of Maurice Bane).
However, it was denied by the Sandiganbayan, which prompted the PCGG to seek redress with the SC, citing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the anti-graft court.
In its decision, the SC said that "the issue before us does not involve the applicability of the rule on mandatory taking of judicial notice; neither is the applicability of the rule on discretionary taking of judicial notice seriously pursued."

"Rather, the petitioner approaches the concept of judicial notice from a genealogical perspective of treating whatever evidence offered in any of the children cases -- Civil Case 0130 -- as evidence in the parent case…or of the whole family of cases," the SC said.
The SC added that "to the petitioner, the supposed relationship of these cases warrants the taking of judicial notice."

"It is the duty of the petitioner, as a party-litigant, to properly lay before the court the evidence it relies upon in support of the relief it seeks, instead of imposing that same duty on the court. We invite the petitioner's attention to our prefatory pronouncement in Lopez v. Sandiganbayan:
"Down the oft-trodden path in our judicial system, by common sense, tradition and the law, the Judge in trying a case sees only with judicial eyes as he ought to know nothing about the facts of the case, except those which have been adduced judicially in evidence. Thus, when the case is up for trial, the judicial head is empty as to facts involved and it is incumbent upon the litigants to the action to establish by evidence the facts upon which they rely."

"We therefore refuse, in the strongest terms, to entertain the petitioner's argument that we should take judicial notice of the Bane deposition," the SC ruling said.

by: PNA




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