Opinion

On a roll

On a roll

Are government lawyers so incompetent, or is justice being undermined by mind-boggling wealth? Just within this year, the Marcoses have won three major cases, setting back efforts to recover billions of dollars in assets amassed during the 20-year regime of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The latest victory was handed to the Marcoses by the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division, with Associate Justice Alex Quiroz penning the decision and Justices Reynaldo Cruz and Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega concurring. The three ruled that most of the documentary evidence submitted by state lawyers were not part of public record but “mere unauthenticated photocopies.”

The ruling courtesy of the Fourth Division brings to 22 the number of civil forfeiture cases against the Marcoses and their cronies that have been dismissed. Nineteen wealth-related cases remain pending.

The wholesale dismissal can be confusing when juxtaposed with established evidence that massive wealth has been accumulated illegally during the Marcos years. The Swiss government has turned over to the Philippines $680 million in assets, after determination of their illegal nature, which were deposited in Swiss banks by Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, signing as William Saunders and Jane Ryan for the accounts. Prime pieces of real property in the United States have been seized and forfeited in favor of the government. A law has been passed, providing reparation for human rights victims of the Marcos dictatorship, to be taken from recovered stolen assets including the Swiss accounts.

In the vaults of the central bank, Imelda Marcos’ eye-popping collection of expensive jewelry worthy of royalty is being readied for auction. The government is still trying to recover priceless paintings by the masters from the former first lady.

There’s so much corpus delicti lying around, but how come no one has been convicted and sent to prison for illegally amassing such wealth in a country where about 30 percent of the population lives in poverty?

It’s not just the judiciary that seems to have a soft spot for the Marcoses. A former official of the Presidential Commission on Good Government lamented this year that even the Anti-Money Laundering Council failed to act on a PCGG request to go after Marcos’ heirs for possible money laundering.

At the rate the wheels of justice are turning in the Marcoses’ favor, one day history may be rewritten to declare that the king’s ransom accumulated by a president of this country, classified as low-income in his time, was handed to his family as a gift by the people themselves.

And every judicial court will uphold the historical revision.