Court junks P51-B suit vs Marcoses
By Michael Punongbayan, The Philippine Star
January 21, 2012
MANILA, Philippines – As the government prepared for month-long activities commemorating the 1986 people power revolt, the Sandiganbayan junked yesterday a P51-billion damage suit filed 25 years ago against deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos, his widow Imelda, two other former officials, and several others accused of dollar salting.
In a 69-page decision, the anti-graft court’s Special Second Division cleared the Marcos couple, former trade minister Roberto Ongpin, former military chief Fabian Ver, and several other government and private individuals of involvement in the operations of the so-called “Binondo Central Bank,” which sold US dollars in the black market from 1984 to 1986.
The Sandiganbayan, in a ruling penned by Associate Justice Samuel Martires, cited the “absence of evidence” and said the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) failed to prove that the Marcoses and their co-accused had enriched themselves by stealing government money.
The case, filed on July 23, 1987, held that the Marcoses and their officials conspired with private individuals – including eight Chinese businessmen who acted as operators, financiers, couriers and agents – in managing and operating the Binondo Central Bank.
The operation allegedly involved the buying of US dollars in the black market and the direct shipment of dollar stocks to Hong Kong where they were sold and traded at higher prices without prior clearance and authority from the Central Bank of the Philippines and without payment of fees, charges, and taxes to the government.
The complaint accused the respondents of “misappropriation and theft of public funds, plunder of the nation’s wealth, extortion, blackmail, bribery, embezzlement and other acts of corruption, betrayal of public trust, and brazen abuse of power, at the expense and to the grave and irreparable damage of plaintiff and the Filipino people.”
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