MANILA – The Sandiganbayan has convicted Ilocos Norte 2nd District representative Imelda Marcos for seven counts of graft for transferring around $200 million to seven Swiss foundations during her term as Metro Manila governor in 1975.
In a decision by the anti-graft court’s fifth division on Friday, the former First Lady was sentenced to prison for 6 years and 1 month to 11 years for each case. She is also perpetually disqualified from holding public office.
The 89-year-old Marcos, widow of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was however acquitted in three other cases involving local foundations, due to a lack of concrete evidence to support them.
The Sandiganbayan has also ordered the issuance of an arrest warrant against Marcos. Neither Marcos nor any of her lawyers were present during the promulgation of the decision.
“Wherefore, premises considered, this Court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt,” the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division said. “The court also ordered the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Marcos.”
However, the 5th Division clarified that because graft is a bailable case, Marcos can have provisional liberty while she is appealing the conviction. Upon payment of bonds, the warrants of arrest will be lifted.
Assistant Special Prosecutor Ryan Quilala told the media that Marcos can still file a motion for reconsideration or elevate the case to the Supreme Court. Quilala added she can still continue her gubernatorial bid in Ilocos Norte for the 2019 midterm until the Sandiganbayan’s decision becomes final and executory.
“She can elevate the case to the Supreme Court if she thinks that there is a grave abuse of discretion on the Sandiganbayan’s decision,” Quilala said. “She can also file a motion and continue her political plans next year.”
Marcos was charged for allegedly having financial or pecuniary interest in and participating in the management of several foundations despite a constitutional prohibition during her time as a member of Interim Batasang Pambansa.
Imelda Marcos was the minister of human settlements from 1976 to 1986 and concurrent Metro Manila governor from 1978 to 1984 when she transferred around $200 million to seven Swiss foundations.
Quilala said that Imelda Marcos and her husband allegedly took part in managing Swiss foundations, which was disallowed by the 1973 Constitution, by using the pseudonyms of Jane Ryan and William Saunders, respectively.
“All of those accounts were opened in Switzerland. It is also evident that there is an attempt for them to keep the accounts by using pseudonyms,” Quilala said. “But Mrs. Marcos was still using the signature of ‘Imelda Marcos’.”
This is the second Sandiganbayan conviction against Imelda Marcos after she was ordered arrested by the anti-graft court in 1993 for two counts of graft. The former first lady was acquitted by the Supreme Court in 1998./PN