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Digest: Republic v. Sandiganbayan (506 SCRA 190, 2003)

Digest: Republic v. Sandiganbayan (506 SCRA 190, 2003)


Facts: On December 17, 1991, petitioner Republic, through the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed a petition for forfeiture before the Sandiganbayan, docketed as Civil Case No. 0141 entitled Republic of the Philippines vs. Ferdinand E. Marcos, represented by his Estate/Heirs and Imelda R. Marcos, pursuant to RA 13791 in relation to Executive Order Nos. 1,2 2,3 144 and 14-A.5

In said case, petitioner sought the declaration of the aggregate amount of US$356 million (now estimated to be more than US$658 million inclusive of interest) deposited in escrow in the PNB, as ill-gotten wealth. The funds were previously held by the following five account groups, using various foreign foundations in certain Swiss banks:

(1) Azio-Verso-Vibur Foundation accounts;

(2) Xandy-Wintrop: Charis-Scolari-Valamo-Spinus- Avertina Foundation accounts;

(3) Trinidad-Rayby-Palmy Foundation accounts;

(4) Rosalys-Aguamina Foundation accounts and

(5) Maler Foundation accounts.



Issue:  whether or not petitioner Republic was able to prove its case for forfeiture in accordance with Sections 2 and 3 of RA 1379.


Ruling: We disagree. The sudden turn-around of the Sandiganbayan was really strange, to say the least, as its findings and conclusions were not borne out by the voluminous records of this case.

Section 2 of RA 1379 explicitly states that "whenever any public officer or employee has acquired during his incumbency an amount of property which is manifestly out of proportion to his salary as such public officer or employee and to his other lawful income and the income from legitimately acquired property, said property shall be presumed prima facie to have been unlawfully acquired. x x x"

The elements which must concur for this prima facie presumption to apply are:

(1) the offender is a public officer or employee;

(2) he must have acquired a considerable amount of money or property during his incumbency; and

(3) said amount is manifestly out of proportion to his salary as such public officer or employee and to his other lawful income and the income from legitimately acquired property.

It is undisputed that spouses Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos were former public officers. Hence, the first element is clearly extant.

The second element deals with the amount of money or property acquired by the public officer during his incumbency. The Marcos couple indubitably acquired and owned properties during their term of office. In fact, the five groups of Swiss accounts were admittedly owned by them. There is proof of the existence and ownership of these assets and properties and it suffices to comply with the second element.

The third requirement is met if it can be shown that such assets, money or property is manifestly out of proportion to the public officer's salary and his other lawful income. It is the proof of this third element that is crucial in determining whether a prima facie presumption has been established in this case.

Petitioner Republic presented not only a schedule indicating the lawful income of the Marcos spouses during their incumbency but also evidence that they had huge deposits beyond such lawful income in Swiss banks under the names of five different foundations. We believe petitioner was able to establish the prima facie presumption that the assets and properties acquired by the Marcoses were manifestly and patently disproportionate to their aggregate salaries as public officials. Otherwise stated, petitioner presented enough evidence to convince us that the Marcoses had dollar deposits amounting to US $356 million representing the balance of the Swiss accounts of the five foundations, an amount way, way beyond their aggregate legitimate income of only US$304,372.43 during their incumbency as government officials.

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