Marcoses get another chance to present defense in ill-gotten wealth case

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The Sandiganbayan has allowed President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. and his family to present defense evidence in their defense in connection with an ill-gotten wealth case filed against them in 1987.

In a 13-page resolution, the anti-graft court denied the Philippine government’s motion to declare that the defendants have waived their right to present evidence due to their failure to appear at the August 13, 2019 court hearing allotted for them to present defense evidence.

Civil Case 0014 accuses the Panlilio couple Rebecco and Erlinda—alleged business associates of the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos and wife Imelda—of acting as dummies in acquiring ownership/control of Ternate Development Corp., Monte Sol Development Corporation, Olas del Mar Development Corporation, Fantasia Filipina Resort, Inc., Sulo Dobbs, Inc., Philippine Village, Inc., Silahis International Hotel, Inc., and Hotel Properties, Inc. by securing financial assistance from government institutions on liberal terms for their financial and pecuniary interests.

The Sandiganbayan said the Marcos family deserves a chance to be heard in the interest of justice.

“Admittedly, defendant Marcos, Jr. et. al. did not attend the hearing dated 13 August 2019 set for the presentation of defendants’ evidence. However, in the higher interest of substantial justice, and, considering the nature of the case where defendants stand to lose their properties, the Court denies the instant motion and hereby gives the defendants another chance to present their evidence in support of their defense,” the Sandiganbayan said.

“To allow the defendants to present their evidence and proceed with the trial of the case would be in furtherance of seeking the truth. Court litigants are primarily for the search of truth, and a liberal interpretation of the rules by which both parties are given the fullest opportunity to adduce is the best way to ferret out the truth,” it added.

The disposition of justice and vindication of  legitimate  grievances , the court said, should not be barred by technicalities.

The court  cited a Supreme Court ruling in the Regalado Samartino vs. Leonar Raon et. al. case which it said allowed the court to be liberal in the interpretation of the rules.

“It is more in accord with justice that a party-litigant is given that fullest opportunity to establish the merits of his claim of defense than for him to lose his life, liberty, honor or property on mere technicalities,” the anti-graft court said.

“Truly, the rules of procedure are intended to promote substantial justice, not to defeat it, and should not be applied in a very rigid and technical sense. Wherefore, premises considered, the Motion to Declare Defendants to have Waived their Right to Present Evidence, filed by the plaintiff Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Presidential Commission on Good Government through the Office of the Solicitor General, is hereby denied,” the anti-graft court added. —NB, GMA News

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