THE country’s anti-graft court has rejected a government attempt to recover P200 billion of alleged ill-gotten assets of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos and his family for lack of evidence.

In a 58-page decision, the Sandiganbayan dismissed the three-decade-old forfeiture case against Mr. Marcos, his wife Imelda, children Ferdinand Jr., Imee Marcos-Manotoc and Irene Marcos-Araneta, and Constante Rubio.

“The court acknowledges the atrocities committed during Martial Law under the Marcos regime and the ‘plunder’ committed on the country’s resources,” the court said. “However, absent sufficient evidence that may lead to the conclusion that the subject properties were indeed ill-gotten by the Marcoses, the court cannot simply order the return of the same to the national treasury,” it added.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government had accused the Marcos family of amassing P976 million in ill-gotten assets deposited in Security Bank Corp. and Trust Co. and about P711 million in the shuttered Traders Royal Bank.

They were also accused of stealing 33 parcels of residential property worth P18 million and 21,700 hectares of agricultural land in Leyte worth P33 million.

The Marcos family were also accused of stealing 625 million shares, including 2.4 million stocks of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. worth P1.6 billion.

The family were also said to have stolen $292 million deposited in foreign banks, $98 million investments in foreign bank accounts, 177 paintings, 42 crates of jewelry, Philippine and US currencies, certificates of time deposits, and jewelry worth P236 billion seized at the Honolulu Airport.

The anti-graft court has junked at least five government lawsuits seeking to recover billions of pesos of alleged stolen assets from the Marcos family and their cronies in the past four months.

In August, the Sandiganbayan rejected a P102-billion ill-gotten wealth case against Mr. Marcos, his wife and their cronies including Roberto Benedicto.

In September, the court also affirmed the dismissal of a civil case against the heirs of Luis Yulo, a known Marcos associate.

A month later, the court rejected a P1.05-billion lawsuit against Bienvenido Tantoco, Sr. and the Marcos couple involving 11 properties in the Philippines, Hawaii and Rome, shares of stocks in 19 companies, various cash, jewelry and other possessions.

Also in October, the Sandiganbayan junked a P267-million ill-gotten wealth case against the late dictator, his wife and several of their associates for insufficient evidence. — Genshen L. Espedido