By: Gabriel Pabico Lalu
Former first lady and Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos has been found guilty of seven counts of graft by the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division.
According to a decision by the anti-graft court on Friday, Marcos was sentenced to imprisonment of from six years and one month, up to 11 years for each count.
This was for violating R. A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, when she transferred around $200 million to seven Swiss foundations during her term as a member of the defunct Batasang Pambansa, as Metro Manila Governor, and as then Minister of Human Settlements.
Associate Justice Rafael Lagos of the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division also ordered the arrest of Marcos.
The Marcoses did not attend the legal proceedings.
The anti-graft court gave Imelda 30 days to explain her absence. She can still post bail for her temporary liberty as graft is a bailable case, the amount, however, has yet to be set by the court.
If the Sandiganbayan’s decision is ruled with finality, she will be perpetually disqualified from holding any public office, although she can still continue her gubernatorial bid in Ilocos Norte as her camp can still file a motion for reconsideration.
“Pwede niyang iakyat sa Supreme Court kung may nakita siyang grave abuse of discretion sa desisyon ng Sandiganbayan so hindi pa ho siya final and executory,” Assistant Special Prosecutor Ryan Quilala told reporters after the promulgation.
According to Quilala, Mrs. Marcos, along with her late husband former president Ferdinand Marcos, allegedly took part in managing Swiss foundations, namely Maler, Rayby, Palmy, Azio-Verso-Vibur, Aguamina, Avertina-Xandy-Wintrop-Charis-Scholari-Valamao-Spinus and Banque Paribas-Gladiator-Mabari-Volubries-Cesar-Gardenia using fake names.
The practice was disallowed under the 1973 Constitution.
“Lahat po ‘yon, do’n binuksan sa Switzerland, actually silang mag-asawa ang nag-bukas. And makikita ninyo, para itago ‘yong account nang hindi natin makita, gumamit sila ng mga pseudonyms, si Presidente (Marcos) ang ginamit niya parang William Saunders, si Imelda Marcos ang ginamit niya Jane Ryan,” Quilala said.
“But ‘yong mga pag-open ng accounts, lahat ng documents, pumipirma siya ng as Imelda Marcos,” he added.
These were the last 10 pending criminal cases in Sandiganbayan against the former First Lady who was acquitted in three other cases involving local foundations, due to lack of concrete evidence.
The cases were filed in 1991 (17287 to 17291), 1993 (19225), and 1995 (22867 to 22870), spanning around more than two decades, several presiding judges and prosecution members.
The Marcoses, including their children Ilocos Sur Governor Imee Marcos and former Senator Bongbong Marcos, have been accused of massive graft and corruption cases during the Marcos administration from 1965 to 1986.
The Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG) has managed to recover P170.45 billion of the estimated $5 to $10 billion alleged Marcos ill-gotten wealth./muf/ac