By: Vince F. Nonato
Former first lady Imelda Marcos, who has been sentenced to 77 years in prison, claims she is suffering from “multiple organ infirmities” in her explanation of her absence from the Sandiganbayan’s promulgation of her graft conviction on Nov. 9.
Her “motion for leave of court to avail [herself] of postconviction remedies” that she submitted on Monday did not mention her attendance at the birthday party of her daughter Imee hours after she skipped the court hearing.
Instead, the four-page motion—which was shown to journalists only on Thursday—stated that Marcos was “under strict orders from her physician to refrain from stressful conditions that will put her at risk of heart and brain attack and recurrence of seizure.”
“The failure to appear was neither intentional nor meant to disrespect this Honorable Court but was solely because she was indisposed,” said the motion filed by her new lawyers led by a former government corporate counsel, Manuel Lazaro.
The motion itself did not enumerate what those ailments were, but Marcos presented a medical certification by her lead doctor, neurologist Joven Cuanang of St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City.
Cuanang listed seven ailments: Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, static ministrokes, moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss, chronic recurrent urinary tract infection, chronic recurrent gastritis and multiple colon polyps, and recurrent respiratory tract infection.
Despite her ailments, Marcos is running for governor of Ilocos Norte, a post currently held by her daughter Imee Marcos, who is seeking a Senate seat in midterm elections next year.
The same motion stated that Marcos’ longtime lawyer, Robert A.C. Sison, could not attend the hearing because he was treated for high blood pressure at Asian Hospital in Muntinlupa City.
Sison was supposedly advised to rest for three days. He submitted a sworn affidavit and a medical certificate, too.
Marcos’ motion for leave of court is an option under Rule 120 of the Rules of Court for defendants who miss their promulgation “without justifiable cause.”
It is a chance for her to justify her absence so she could get the court’s consent to pursue her appeal, seek the deferment of her arrest and apply for postconviction bail to remain free while the verdict is not yet final.
The court’s Fifth Division ordered the issuance of an arrest warrant on Nov. 9, when it promulgated Marcos’ conviction.
But the court deferred the release of the warrant, opting to hold a hearing first on Marcos’ motion on Nov. 16.
Pictures of partying
The absence of the 89-year-old widow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos was controversial, as CNN Philippines published pictures of her partying with President Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, and other government officials.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes said in a statement: “How can Imelda Marcos claim she was unable to attend the promulgation of the verdict due to multiple organ infirmities when she was photographed at an evening party on the same day? The reasoning is an insult to Filipinos.”
Marcos was charged with violating Section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for her involvement in transactions prohibited by the 1973 Constitution.
The Swiss foundations covered by these cases were allegedly used to maintain bank accounts containing more than $200 million for the benefit of the Marcos family. The cases also involve Asian Reliability Company Inc., a local company.
The court said the transactions were illegal because she was serving as a member of the Batasang Pambansa representing Metro Manila from 1978 to 1984, and as the minister of human settlements and concurrent Metro Manila governor from June 1976 to February 1986.
Under Article VIII, Section 11 of the 1973 Constitution, members of the Batasang Pambansa are prohibited from having direct or indirect interest in transactions involving the government.