No coordination between Ombudsman, PCGG on Marcos ill-gotten wealth cases: Martires

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2020 08:27 PM

Samuel Martires is sworn in as Supreme Court associate justice by President Rodrigo Duterte on March 8, 2017. Martires took over as Ombudsman on Aug. 8, 2018. Malacanang Photo


MANILA - Ombudsman Samuel Martires on Tuesday admitted to the House Appropriations Committee that there is no coordination between his office and the Presidential Commission on Good Government regarding the ill-gotten wealth cases against the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Responding to the interpolation of Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate during the Ombudsman's budget briefing, Martires said he has yet to talk to any official from PCGG since becoming Ombudsman in August 2018.

"Huwag naman ho sana ikagagalit ng Presidential Commission on Good Government. Pero, mula po nang ako ay umupo bilang Ombudsman, hindi pa ho kami nagkakadaupang-palad ng sinumang opisyal ng Presidential Commission on Good Government," Martires said.

"So, ibig sabihin, wala ho kami pinag-uusapan tungkol sa recovery ng mga assets ng panahon ng dating Pangulong Marcos," he added.

"Di ko alam kung staff, yung sa mga staff ko sila ay nakikipag-usap. Pero sa akin mismo, wala akong alam na nag-ugnayan kami ng Presidential Commission on Good Government. Katunayan po, sasabihin ko sa inyo ang totoo, ni isa ho sa opisyal ng PCGG ay wala po akong kilala, at wala akong nakikita. Siguro naman, di rin nila ako kilala. So ibig sabihin, sa akin lang po, ang katotohanan ay hindi kami magkakakilala."

Martires told lawmakers that all cases related to the Marcoses and their cronies are currently in the Sandiganbayan.

"Lahat po ng mga kaso ng mga Macoses, o ng mga cronies ng panahon ni Pangulong Marcos, lahat po yan, ang mga kaso ay nasa Sandiganbayan na po. Nasa sa Sandiganbayan na po ang desisyon kung kailan nila ilalabas ang kanilang resolusyon sa mga kasong ito," he said.

"Ang alam ko po ay halos tapos na po ang presentation ng evidence on the part of the prosecution. Hindi ko lang po alam kung on the part of the defense, tapos na rin. Pero, pagkakalaam ko po, tapos na po ito eh. At dapat po matapos na talaga sa tagal ng panahon," he added.

Upon hearing Martires' answer, Zarate said, "That is very tragic."

"That is very tragic because ito hong plundered wealth ay isa sa dahilan bakit matindi pa rin ang kahirapan ng ating bayan," the party-list lawmaker said.

"At kung hindi ho nag-uusap ang mga ahensiya, tulad ng Office of the Ombudsmanat, ng PCGG, na pangunang may poder para mabawi ito ay talagang hindi tayo magtataka kung ang mga kasong isinasampa sa mga korte ay patalo nang patalo," Zarate added.

Earlier this year, the Sandiganbayan 4th Division affirmed its dismissal of a civil case involving the forfeiture of P267 million of alleged ill-gotten wealth of the family of Marcos, and spouses Fe and Ignacio Gimenez.

In a resolution promulgated on Jan. 23, 2020, the anti-graft court denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the PCGG.

In October 2019, the Sandiganbayan 2nd Division also dismissed another case involving the late strongman and his wife Imelda, as well as Rustan’s Commercial Corporation founders Bienvenido Tantoco Sr. and Gliceria Tantoco, regarding an estimated P1.052 billion ill-gotten wealth, for insufficient evidence.

Civil Case No. 008 filed in 1988 by the PCGG involves expensive works of art and jewelry, real estate properties in New York, duty-free shop franchises, tax-free importation benefits, and such corporations as Rustan International Marketing, Eagle Mining Corporation, Rustan Pulp and Paper Factory.

The Philippines marked Monday the 48th anniversary of the imposition by Marcos of Martial Law across the country, which officially lasted until January 1981.

According to reports from global human rights watchdog Amnesty International, around 100,000 people were victims of martial law, with 3,000 killed, 34,000 tortured and 70,000 arrested.

The Marcoses also amassed an estimated $5 to $10 billion, or more than P500 billion, in ill-gotten wealth, based on the World Bank-United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Stolen Asset Recovery report.

The Philippine Commission on Good Government, the agency tasked with recovering billions of dollars plundered by Marcos and his allies, had recovered a total of P170 billion in the past 30 years.