SC affirms acquittal of Imelda Marcos for dollar salting

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Manila regional trial court (RTC) in 2008 acquittal of former First Lady and now Rep. Imelda R. Marcos of dollar salting. The decision was made public, incidentally on the 46th anniversary of the Marcos' regime's martial law, September 21.

The highest court affirmed that Imelda is acquitted in 33 criminal cases of stowing away millions of dollars she shared with her husband former Ferdinand Marcos in Geneva, Switzerland from 1973 to 1985.

The Supreme Court affirmed that 2008 acquittal decision of Imelda Marcos
The Supreme Court affirmed that 2008 acquittal decision of Imelda Marcos | Photo Courtesy: Facebook/ MIRM - Madame Imelda Romualdez Marcos

Justice Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen’s decision states, “The Regional Trial Court Decision dated May 28, 2007 and promulgated on March 10, 2008 was not issued in violation of the Court of Appeals (CA) writ of injunction. When this Regional Trial Court Decision was promulgated, the writ of injunction had already been dissolved.”

The Court of Appeals (CA) rulings, dated February 28, 2008 and November 24, 2008, denied the late and former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez’s petitions to reverse the acquittal of the former first lady. The decision also junked the government prosecution panel’s bid for the inhibition of Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Presiding Judge Silvino Pampilo, Jr due to “alleged bias.”

The Supreme Court upheld the rulings of CA saying that the prosecution failed to provide more evidence and proof “of the alleged offense and of the conspiracy among the accused.” It also denied that CA made any grave of abuse of discretion or error in their ruling.

The SC statement continued, “This petition arose from what appears to have been such an important case for the government, which involves accountability for millions of pesos spirited away by respondent, filed in the lower court. Yet, it appears that the government's resolve to prosecute has been lackadaisical, to say the least. The prosecution and their witness appear to have requested several postponements on grounds which, to this court (SC), do not outweigh the grave public interest suggested by the various informations filed against respondent.”

“The lower court's liberality in granting the various continuances does not seem to have been met by the presentation of evidence with a depth and quality that would have shown the diligence and seriousness of the prosecution,” statement further explained.

On the issue of Judge Silvino Pampilo, Jr’s inhibition, the Supreme Court says that the decision was for Pampilo to make. The Supreme Court decision states, “Whether or not to voluntarily inhibit from hearing a case is a matter within the judge’s discretion. Absent clear and convincing evidence to overcome the presumption that the judge will dispense justice in accordance with law and evidence, this Court will not interfere.”

The SC added that the prosecution also failed to present enough proof of Pampilo’s alleged bias and pointed at the prosecution’s “own acts that delayed its presentation of evidence and that the prosecution had been granted a six (6)-month extension to complete its presentation o f evidence.”

The country’s highest court pointed to the prosecution's “various failures” that led to the acquittal on the ground of “reasonable doubt.”

— Sally, The Summit Express

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