THE anti-graft court junked the Philippine government’s appeal on the dismissal of a P267-million ill-gotten wealth case against cronies of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos and his wife Imelda R. Marcos, deeming the documentary evidence presented to be insufficient as they were not original documents.

“The Court finds that the Republic has failed in its burden of proving its case against the Spouses Gimenez (Fe R. Gimenez and Ignacio B. Gimenez) by preponderance of evidence and consequently, the present civil forfeiture case should be dismissed,” the Sandiganbayan said in its decision promulgated on Jan. 23.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) asked the Court to take a look into the “nature, character and probative weight” of the documentary evidence that it had presented, as this would show that most of its evidence were “not mere photocopies, but rather authenticated true copies of the original.”

The Sandiganbayan, however, was not persuaded, saying that the pieces of evidence on the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth “remain as private documents and do not become part of public records.”

“Not having attained the status of certified public records… the photocopies that the Republic has submitted as exhibits amount to a violation of the best evidence rule which requires that the original document must be produced whenever its contents are subject of the inquiry,” the Court said.

Likewise, the Sandiganbayan was not convinced on the prosecution’s claim that “sufficient evidence had been submitted to prove that the assets of the Spouses Gimenez are manifestly disproportionate to their source of income.”

“As correctly pointed out by the Spouses Gimenez, there is insufficient evidence to prove that the properties listed under the name of the Spouses Gimenez were ill-gotten,” it said.

“The PCGG’s power to sequester alleged ill-gotten properties is likened to the provisional remedies of preliminary attachment or receivership. In the same way that the lifting of the sequestration order does not mean that the property is not ill-gotten wealth, the fact that a property has been sequestered cannot be taken as proof that the same is already ill-gotten wealth,” the Court added.

The Court affirmed its decision to dismiss the case promulgated in October 2019. Under Civil Case No. 0007, Ms. Gimenez was accused of participating in the transfer of “millions of dollars of government funds into several accounts in her name in foreign countries,” disbursing these funds to her co-defendants, and “acted as a conduit” of the Marcoses in the purchase of expensive works of art and properties in New York, USA.

Her husband, on the other hand, was accused of acting as a dummy of the Marcoses in corporations such as Allied Banking Corp. — Genshen L. Espedido