MARCOS FAMILY BLOCKED RELEASE OF PNB DEPOSIT

MANILA, August 20, 2003 (STAR)  By Aurea Calica  - The Marcos family moved yesterday to block government efforts to get hold of $683-million Swiss accounts being held in escrow at the Philippine National Bank (PNB) without the Supreme Court (SC) hearing their motion for reconsideration first.

In a seven-page opposition to the motion of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to declare the High Courtís decision final and executory, the Marcoses asked the SC to consider their appeal first.

In its July 15 ruling, the SC declared the Marcosesí Swiss deposits as ill-gotten and forfeited the money in favor of the government.

Former first lady Imelda Marcos assailed the governmentís motion as an attempt at a "shortcut" to get the money.

Mrs. Marcosí counsel said the government apparently wanted to "bulldoze" the case through its motion, which would "thoroughly and irrevocably deny respondent of her indispensable right to due process."

"Must this Honorable Court yet again deny respondent the benefit accorded by the rules to a losing party during the pendency of a motion for reconsideration when the Republic will not even be prejudiced as the escrow funds are intact and earning interest?" the Marcos lawyers asked in a petition.

The Marcoses said their rights had been violated more than enough when the tribunal decided the case by summary judgment instead of remanding it to the Sandiganbayan for trial.

The OSG, on the other hand, said the tribunal should consider the length of time during which the case had been pending before the Sandiganbayan and the public interest involved.

The OSG pointed out that the present case had languished too long and itís about time the government recover the billions of dollars stolen from the Filipino people by the Marcoses and their cronies.

It added that a motion for reconsideration would only delay the case considering that the reasons and arguments in the previous pleadings and memorandum had already been considered and resolved by the court.

The government said earlier the release of the money would benefit the countryís agrarian reform program and human rights victims during the Marcos regime and at the same time provide relief for the countryís huge budget deficit.

But this could only be done if the SCís decision is executed without delay, the OSG said.

The Marcoses, however, told the tribunal it should not swallow these arguments "hook, line and sinker" and allow them to have their day in court.

Besides, they argued that even if the government had a prima facie case against them, they should be entitled to present evidence as mandated by Republic Act 1379.

The lawyers of the Marcos family emphasized that the government could not invoke the "historical and political implications" of the case to suspend the constitutional rights of the respondents.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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