Sunday, December 09, 2007

If Imelda is innocent then why is my wallet missing?

I didn't realize that Robert Sison, Imelda Marcos' lawyer, actually believes in his client's innocence, until I saw that letter he sent to the Inquirer in response to something that former Justice Isagani Cruz wrote in the paper. Sison had earlier filed a motion before the Sandiganbayan invoking Imelda's right to a speedy trial. Apparently, the plunderer is concerned that she might die before she can spend all the money she stole, hence the need to ask the court to rule on her cases while the present PCGG and the family that occupies Malacanang appear willing to go along with what Frank Chavez has described as her "illusion of innocence."

So here's what the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), headed by the competent and upright Dennis Villa-Ignacio can do to help Imelda get he speedy trial she wants: ask Robert Sison and his client to go with the OSP and its prosecutors to Zurich in Switzerland (and possibly Liechtenstein) . There, both sides can identify and mark for the Sandiganbayan all the documents relating to the bank accounts opened in behalf of the Marcos criminals by their Swiss agents. That's not so hard; those accounts were frozen in April 1986, were then provisionally returned to the Philippines in 1997 and finally forfeited in favor of the State by our own Supreme Court in 2003. In fact, the shameless pretension of Robert Sison and his client that they have not delayed the cases filed against them is exposed as a lie by the Supreme Court. Using the forfeiture case against the Marcoses as an example, the Court said that

"Since 1991, when the petition for forfeiture was first filed, up to the present, all respondents have offered are foxy responses like “lack of sufficient knowledge or lack of privity” or “they cannot recall because it happened a long time ago” or, as to Mrs. Marcos, “the funds were lawfully acquired.” But, whenever it suits them, they also claim ownership of 90% of the funds and allege that only 10% belongs to the Marcos estate. It has been an incredible charade from beginning to end."

Or in the harsher words of the Court when it denied the motion for reconsideration of the Marcoses in the same case:

"It would readily be apparent to a reasonable mind that respondent Marcoses have been deliberately resorting to every procedural device to delay the resolution hereof. There is justice waiting to be done. The people and the State are entitled to favorable judgment, free from vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays, the salutary objective being to restore the ownership of the Swiss deposits to the rightful owner, the Republic of the Philippines, within the shortest possible time.

The respondent Marcoses cannot deny that the delays in this case have all been made at their instance. The records can testify to this incontrovertible fact. It will be a mockery of justice to allow them to benefit from it."

So there, in that same case, the Supreme Court said that the Marcoses and their bank accounts in five 'account groups' --

(1) Azio-Verso-Vibur Foundation accounts;

(2) Xandy-Wintrop: Charis-Scolari-Valamo-Spinus- Avertina Foundation accounts;

(3) Trinidad-Rayby-Palmy Foundation accounts;

(4) Rosalys-Aguamina Foundation accounts and

(5) Maler Foundation accounts

containing around $650 Million at that time, would be forfeited. Now here is the part that should matter in the criminal cases that Imelda says she now wants resolved (yes, after over a decade of delaying them by filing all sorts of dilatory motions and pleadings, including changing her lawyer at least 5 times): the Court, in response to the criminal Imelda's 'concern' that

"the factual finding that the foundations involved in the instant forfeiture proceedings were businesses managed by her and her late husband, will adversely affect the criminal proceedings filed by the Republic against her"

said that

"the law imposes the burden of proving guilt on the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt, and the trial judge in evaluating the evidence must find that all the elements of the crime charged have been established by sufficient proof to convict.

But really, this is how it should be: there is no escaping that Imelda Marcos and her dictator-thief-liar husband were found by the Supreme Court to have conducted and managed businesses -- the so-called Swiss "foundations" are not charitable entities but businesses set up for profit and amassed huge amounts of money that were then deposited in their Swiss accounts from 1969 to 1986 (and even afterwards). This is precisely an element of the crimes they were charged with in the Sandiganbayan. Unless Imelda herself (or maybe Robert Sison, who has apparently acquired his client's predilection for "un-truthiness") goes to Switzerland, and destroys all the documents she signed as "Jane Ryan" or any of the other aliases she used, then all that is left to do is to decide whether these documents prove a crime or not. And this is Imelda's gambit. She is hoping (and of course bribing and influence-peddling) that the usual inertia of government prosecutors and Malacanang's lack of political will (or worse, the existence of a will to betray) combined will prevail. That could happen, but then again, it will take a lot of bribery and whatever political capital (and hidden ill-gotten wealth) she has left for Imelda to roll back all that has been legally established about the plunder she and her husband committed during their dictatorship.

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