Today in Philippine History, October 6, 1998, the Supreme Court reversed Imelda Marcos sentence

Wednesday October 03, 2012 ()

Former first lady Imelda Marcos
(Former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos)

October 6, 1998, the Supreme Court reversed a 1993 lower court decision sentencing former First Lady Imelda Marcos to a maximum 12-year jail term and perpetual disqualification from public office, based on insufficiency of evidence.

Earlier on January 14, 1992, Mrs. Imelda Marcos and Jose P. Dans, Jr. Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively, of the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) were indicted separately before the Sandiganbayan for a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The prosecutors alleged:

Today in Philippine History,   October 6, 1998, the Supreme Court reversed Imelda Marcos sentence

That on or about June 8, 1984, and for sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in Makati, Metro-Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused IMELDA R. MARCOS and JOSE P. DANS, JR., public officers, being then Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively, of the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), a government corporate entity created under Executive Order No. 603 of the former President Ferdinand Marcos, while in the performance of their official functions, taking advantage of their positions and committing the crime in relation to their offices, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally conspiring with one another, enter on behalf of the aforesaid government corporation into a Lease Agreement covering LRTA property located in Pasay City, with the Philippine General Hospital Foundation, Inc. (PGHFI), a private enterprise, under terms and conditions manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government.

On September 24, 1993, Marcos and Dans were convicted by the First Division of the Sandiganbayan presided over by Justice Garchitorena, and each sentenced to imprisonment for the indeterminate period of nine (9) years and one (1) day as minimum to twelve (12) years and ten (10) days as maximum and an additional penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office.

The case was elevated to the Supreme Court and on June 29, 1998, the Third Division of the court came out with its decision affirming the judgment, as against petitioner Imelda R. Marcos, in G.R. No. 126995, but reversing the same judgment, as against Jose P. Dans, Jr., in G.R. No. 127073.

Marcos later appealed and petitioned the court for the reversal of its decision against her. On October 6, 1998, the First Division of the Supreme Court handed down a decision in her favor in G.R. No. 126995. The decision written by Justice Purisima read partly:

Purely from the legal standpoint, with the evident weakness of the prosecutions case and the procedural aberrations that marred the trial, it is simply unsound and impossible to treat differently each petitioner who found themselves in one and the same situation. Indeed, our regained democracy, creditably, is successfully bailing us out from the ruins of the authoritarian regime, and it expects that government efforts in going after the plunderers of that dark past remain unrelenting and decisive. But let us not, in our anxiety to carry out this duty, for a moment forget that our criminal justice system is not a popularity contest where freedom and punishment are determined merely by the fame or infamy of the litigants. The scales of justice, it has been aptly said, must hang equal and, in fact, should even be tipped in favor of the accused because of the constitutional presumption of innocence. Needless to stress, this right is available to every accused, whatever his present circumstance and no matter how dark and repellent his past. Culpability for crimes must always take its bearing from evidence and universal precepts of due process - lest we sacrifice in mocking shame once again the very liberties we are defending.

Justices Martinez concured; Quisumbing, concured; Bellosillo concured and voted for acquittal of petitioner for insufficiency of evidence; Melo, concurred; Puno, voted for acquittal, petitioners trial was not impartial, and petitioner was convicted by a Division of the Sandiganbayan without jurisdiction; Kapunan, concurred; Mendoza, concurred on the ground of insufficiency of evidence.

Justice Vitug, voted for remanding the case in order to allow the corrections of the perceived irregularities in the proceedings.

Justices Narvasa, on official leave, certified by Regalado, dissented; Regalado, dissented; Davide Jr, dissented; Romero, dissented; Panganiban, dissented.

Sources:

  1. The Supreme Court of the Philippines (http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/)
  2. Philippines News Agency archives
  3. Chan Robles Virtual Law Library


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