On February 13, the Sandiganbayan decided to affirm its ruling dropping the P102 million forfeiture case against the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, his wife Imelda, and some officials of the Marcos administration who were tagged in the case as his cronies.
The Second Division of the anti-graft court said in the ruling, released on Wednesday, that the prosecution failed to present new arguments that would have convinced itself to reverse its earlier ruling.
“Considering that no new and compelling grounds were presented, the present motion (for reconsideration) bears no weight in calling for a reversal much less modification of the assailed decision,” the court added.
One point that stood out in the ruling, an affirmation of its August 2019 decision, was that the prosecution failed to convince the court that the Marcos co-accused “enjoyed a close association with then-President F. Marcos and/or his wife similar to that of a dummy, agent, or nominee and that they unlawfully accumulated wealth by virtue of such close association or relation.”
“Mere allegations and presentation of proof of the positions do not suffice,” it added, pointing out that merely holding key positions in government “does not lead to the conclusion that defendants took advantage of their positions and embarked in schemes to unjustly enrich themselves.”
“It saddens the court that it took more than 30 years before this case is submitted for decision and yet, the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence to sustain any of the causes of action against the remaining defendants. It is settled that in civil cases, the party making allegations has the burden of proving them by a preponderance of the evidence. In addition, the parties must rely on the strength of their own evidence, not upon the weakness of the defense offered by their opponent,” it said.
Indeed, it is sad that those who might have committed malfeasance or misfeasance, as alleged by the prosecution, during the dark days of the dictatorship are now free to brag about their exploits, although, as the court pointed out, there was not enough proof to show that they took advantage of their positions to milk the government during those days.
The question that lingers on is: did the prosecution do its job in securing proofs, or were their pieces of evidence that were ignored? Either way, the Filipino people are left holding an empty bag.
So after 30 years, and millions of pesos in resources, no one among those charged was punished, But, who’s to blame?