Laglag o sablay? Ex-CJ Panganiban seeks probe of PCGG, SolGen abogados who screwed up Marcos ill-gotten wealth cases
Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban believes somebody should take responsibility for the government’s dismal record – four losses in 5 months – in regaining the billions looted by the Marcos family.
“These cases languished for 30 years in the judicial dockets.
Consequently, there were many solicitors general, OSG (Office of Solicitor General) prosecutors, PCGG (Presidential Commission on Good Government) chairs, commissioners and other officials who bungled them,” said Panganiban in his Inquirer column.
“I agree that a thorough investigation should be conducted as to who among them may be held accountable,” he added.
Panganiban was reacting to the recent Sandiganbayan decision on the sequestration of Eastern Telecommunication Philippines Inc. (ETPI).
Last week, the anti-graft court ruled that Marcos cronies Jose Africa and Manuel Nieto, Jr.acted as dummies for former President Ferdinand Marcos in the acquisition of 60 percent of ETPI.
While 15 Africa and Nieto heirs were ordered to return the shares and dividends received from ETPI, acquitted Marcos and his wife Imelda and former Marcos Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrileon for “failure of the republic to establish preponderance of evidence against them.”
Panganiban has blamed the OSG and PCCG for losing three ill-gotten wealth cases against the Marcoses because of “their failure to observe the very basic rules of procedure is appalling and incredible.”
The three cases are:
*P102 billion cases involving Marcos crony and fraternity brother Roberto Benedicto on August 2019
* P1 billion case versus Marcos dummy and Rustans founder Bienvenido Tantoco for illicit profits from Tourist Duty Free Shops Inc. (TDFS) on September 2019
* P267 million forfetiture case against Marcos crony couple Fe and Ignacio Jimenez on October 2019
Panganiban even cited how the government lawyers were lectured by the SC for their incompetence:
“The best evidence rule has been recognized… since the 18th century… [and] has been practiced as one of the most basic rules in law. It is difficult to conceive that one could have finished law school and passed the bar examinations without knowing such elementary rule.
Thus, it is deeply disturbing that the PCGG and the (OSG)—the very agencies sworn to protect the interest of the state and its people—could conduct their prosecution in the manner that they did…
The lawyers of these government agencies are expected to be the best in the legal profession… However, despite having the expansive resources of the government, (they) did not even bother to provide any reason whatsoever for their failure to present the original documents or the witnesses to support the government’s claims… Such manner of legal practice deserves the reproof of this Court.”