SC affirms dismissal of forfeiture raps vs. Marcoses, Tantoco

MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the 2019 decision of the Sandiganbayan which dismissed the complaint filed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) against the family of the late president Ferdinand Marcos and Tantoco family seeking the forfeiture of all properties acquired by them during the Marcos administration.

In the 26-page decision promulgated on March 29 and uploaded on July 18, the SC First Division dismissed the complaint against Bienvenido R. Tantoco Jr.; Ferdinand E. Marcos, substituted by his heirs namely: Imelda R. Marcos, Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., Imee Marcos and Irene Marcos-Araneta; Bienvenido R. Tantoco Sr., Gliceria R. Tantoco, substituted by Dominador R. Santiago and Maria Lourdes Tantoco-Pineda.

The complaint filed in 1987 alleged that the late president unlawfully withdrew from the National Treasury, the Central Bank and other financial institutions of the country and transferred these funds to various payees.

In particular, the Tantocos and Santiago were alleged to have acted as dummies in the acquisition of various real and personal properties as well as businesses of the Marcoses and obtained unwarranted benefits for themselves and their businesses as a result of their close association.

The Sandiganabyan, in its Sept. 25, 2019 decision said the PCGG failed to prove the allegations of its complaint and dismissed it for insufficiency of evidence.

Among other things, the Sandiganbayan said the PCGG hid documents from the respondents despite several requests and did not produce the same during the proper time.

“In order to consider petitioner’s evidence as sufficient to prove the allegations of its expanded complaint, the court has to perform many leaps of logic, engage in presumptions, and create inferences based on other inferences in order to bridge the gaps in the evidence adduced. In the face of such gaps, petitioner’s allegations in its expanded complaint are reduced to mere speculations, insinuations and conjectures. Thus, while it is truly disappointing that nothing has come of this case despite the lapse of 36 years spent in litigation, the Court agrees with the Sandiganbayan that petitioner’s evidence is insufficient to support the allegations of its expanded complaint by a preponderance of evidence. Accordingly, the Sandiganbayan was correct in dismissing the expanded complaint for reconveyance, accounting, restitution and damages against all the respondents,” the SC said