Lola na kasi! CA denies Imelda sister-in-law’s plea to avoid early testimony on ill-gotten wealth
The Court of Appeals (CA) has denied the petition of Juliette Gomez Romualdez against a Makati court order for her testimony to be taken early before her old age prevents her from participating in the Marcos and Romualdez families’ ill-gotten wealth case.
In a recent 14-page decision, the CA Special 14th Division affirmed the April 27, 2015 order of the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) granting First Philippine Holdings Corporations’ (FPHC) petition for the “perpetuation” of Juliette’s testimony.
The perpetuation of testimony would allow the Lopez company to use Juliette’s written interrogatories as evidence in contesting the ownership of the Banco de Oro (BDO) shares sequestered from her late husband, former Leyte Governor Benjamin Romualdez, in 1986.
FPHC wanted to intervene in Civil Case Number 0035, the long-pending ill-gotten wealth case against Benjamin before the Sandiganbayan. But, the anti-graft court twice rejected its attempt.
An appeal is pending before the Supreme Court (SC), and FPHC still hoped to interrogate Juliette about her and Benjamin’s sources of income and assets.
FPHC wanted to use her statements should the SC rule in its favor, but it also had to consider her advanced age and the possibility that she would no longer be available in the trial in the future.
In seeking to avoid deposition, Juliette raised the grounds of lack of jurisdiction and forum-shopping. However, the CA found her petition to be “patently without merit.”
The CA held that the ill-gotten wealth case in the Sandiganbayan and FPHC’s petition for perpetuation before the Makati RTC “involve different issues, causes of action and reliefs prayed for.” Hence, there was no forum-shopping.
“The dismissal of the petition a quo on the ground of forum-shopping, as prayed for by defendant-appellant Juliette, cannot but be characterized as highly misplaced and uncalled for,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Marie Christine Azcarraga-Jacob.
The CA added that the Makati RTC had jurisdiction over the perpetuation petition because Juliette resided in the upscale Forbes Park.
Juliette is the sister-in-law of former First Lady Imelda Marcos and the mother of House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and Chamber of Mines of the Philippines president Benjamin Philip Romualdez.
In the pending Sandiganbayan case, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) sought to forfeit in the government’s favor the ill-gotten wealth of the estates of Benjamin and dictator Ferdinand Marcos.