THE SANDIGANBAYAN has ordered Imelda R. Marcos’s bail forfeited, citing her “unjustified” absence in her conviction for graft last Friday.
“On motion of the prosecution and considering that the absence of the accused and her counsel appears to be unjustified, the bonds posted by the accused in the cases where she was convicted are ordered forfeited,” read the order last Friday by the graft court’s fifth division.
“On second call, accused Imelda R. Marcos and her counsel, Atty. Robert Sison were still not present in court,” the court order noted.
Mrs. Marcos, the widow of the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos and incumbent congresswoman of Ilocos Norte’s 2nd district, was convicted for seven counts of graft in connection with the transfer of $200 million in public funds to Swiss foundations during the Marcoses’ rule.
Mrs. Marcos was sentenced to six to 11 years of imprisonment per count, with perpetual disqualification from public office.
On Friday night, photos of Mrs. Marcos were posted on social media showing her joining the birthday party of daughter Imee Marcos, the incumbent governor of Ilocos Norte.
Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo, in a radio interview on Sunday, said of the octogenarian Mrs. Marcos, “(K)ung kaya pang mag-party, kaya pang lumagi sa kulungan.” (If she can party, she can also go to jail.)
On Monday, the camp of Ms. Marcos filed a motion for leave of court to avail of post conviction remedies.
PNP Spokesperson Chief Supt. Benigno B. Durana in a press briefing on Tuesday said “I think we’ve taken the statement of the chief PNP out of context. Kasi ang sinabi niya ay (What he said was) we have to consider the age and the health of the Rep. Marcos, in the manner we prepare and execute the arrest of the convicted person. Hindi ‘yung age at health are factors whether to arrest or not parang mali ata (It’s not the age and health that are the factors whether to arrest her or not. I think it’s wrong to say that), parang ini-slant ng iba (This was the slant by some [reports]).”
Mr. Durana added, “Ang ibig sabihin ni chief PNP (What the chief PNP meant was) na age and health of Rep. Marcos should be considered in the manner we assess her flight risk or we assess the manner we will prepare and execute the arrest, but not factors that will hinder us from arresting her the moment we received the warrant of arrest.”
For its part, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said, “Although we welcome the Sandiganbayan decision, (it) comes too late. At 89, Imelda has only a few years left to serve her 42- to 77-year jail term. She has evaded justice by more than 30 years. That is, if ever she is put behind bars. Imelda will surely carry out legal maneuvers to take advantage of the slow grind of the Philippine justice system to evade justice completely. There is widespread apprehension that she will ultimately be shielded by a Duterte presidential pardon.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan and Vince Angelo C. Ferreras