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Digest: Republic v. Sandiganbayan

Republic v. Sandiganbayan
G.R. No. 152154, July 15, 2003, 406 SCRA 193



One of the foremost concerns of the Aquino Government in February 1986 was the recovery of the unexplained or ill-gotten wealth reputedly amassed by former President and Mrs. Ferdinand E. Marcos, their relatives, friends and business associates. Thus, the very first Executive Order (EO) issued by then President Corazon Aquino upon her assumption to office after the ouster of the Marcoses was EO No. 1, issued on February 28, 1986. It created the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and charged it with the task of assisting the President in the "recovery of all ill-gotten wealth accumulated by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, whether located in the Philippines or abroad, including the takeover or sequestration of all business enterprises and entities owned or controlled by them during his administration, directly or through nominees, by taking undue advantage of their public office and/or using their powers, authority, influence, connections or relationship." 

In all the alleged ill-gotten wealth cases filed by the PCGG, this Court has seen fit to set aside technicalities and formalities that merely serve to delay or impede judicious resolution. This Court prefers to have such cases resolved on the merits at the Sandiganbayan. But substantial justice to the Filipino people and to all parties concerned, not mere legalisms or perfection of form, should now be relentlessly and firmly pursued. Almost two decades have passed since the government initiated its search for and reversion of such ill-gotten wealth. The definitive resolution of such cases on the merits is thus long overdue. If there is proof of illegal acquisition, accumulation, misappropriation, fraud or illicit conduct, let it be brought out now. Let the ownership of these funds and other assets be finally determined and resolved with dispatch, free from all the delaying technicalities and annoying procedural sidetracks.


·         The dollar equivalent was arrived at by using the official annual rates of exchange of the Philippine peso and the US dollar from 1965 to 1985 as well as the official monthly rates of exchange in January and February 1986 issued by the Center for Statistical Information of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Prescinding from the aforesaid admissions, Section 4, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court provides that:


Section 4. – Judicial admissions – An admission, verbal or written, made by a party in the course of the proceedings in the same case does not require proof. The admission may be contradicted only by showing that it was made through palpable mistake or that no such admission was made.


It is settled that judicial admissions may be made: (a) in the pleadings filed by the parties; (b) in the course of the trial either by verbal or written manifestations or stipulations; or (c) in other stages of judicial proceedings, as in the pre-trial of the case. Thus, facts pleaded in the petition and answer, as in the case at bar, are deemed admissions of petitioner and respondents, respectively, who are not permitted to contradict them or subsequently take a position contrary to or inconsistent with such admissions.


The sum of $304,372.43 should be held as the only known lawful income of respondents since they did not file any Statement of Assets and Liabilities (SAL), as required by law, from which their net worth could be determined. Besides, under the 1935 Constitution, Ferdinand E. Marcos as President could not receive "any other emolument from the Government or any of its subdivisions and instrumentalities". Likewise, under the 1973 Constitution, Ferdinand E. Marcos as President could "not receive during his tenure any other emolument from the Government or any other source." In fact, his management of businesses, like the administration of foundations to accumulate funds, was expressly prohibited under the 1973 Constitution:


Their only known lawful income of $304,372.43 can therefore legally and fairly serve as basis for determining the existence of a prima facie case of forfeiture of the Swiss funds.

We agree with petitioner that respondent Marcoses made judicial admissions of their ownership of the subject Swiss bank deposits in their answer, the General/Supplemental Agreements, Mrs. Marcos' Manifestation and Constancia dated May 5, 1999, and the Undertaking dated February 10, 1999. We take note of the fact that the Associate Justices of the Sandiganbayan were unanimous in holding that respondents had made judicial admissions of their ownership of the Swiss funds.




We have always adhered to the familiar doctrine that an admission made in the pleadings cannot be controverted by the party making such admission and becomes conclusive on him, and that all proofs submitted by him contrary thereto or inconsistent therewith should be ignored, whether an objection is interposed by the adverse party or not.104 This doctrine is embodied in Section 4, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court:

SEC. 4. Judicial admissions. ─ An admission, verbal or written, made by a party in the course of the proceedings in the same case, does not require proof. The admission may be contradicted only by showing that it was made through palpable mistake or that no such admission was made.

In the absence of a compelling reason to the contrary, respondents' judicial admission of ownership of the Swiss deposits is definitely binding on them.

The individual and separate admissions of each respondent bind all of them pursuant to Sections 29 and 31, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court:

SEC. 29. Admission by co-partner or agent. ─ The act or declaration of a partner or agent of the party within the scope of his authority and during the existence of the partnership or agency, may be given in evidence against such party after the partnership or agency is shown by evidence other than such act or declaration. The same rule applies to the act or declaration of a joint owner, joint debtor, or other person jointly interested with the party.

SEC. 31. Admission by privies. ─ Where one derives title to property from another, the act, declaration, or omission of the latter, while holding the title, in relation to the property, is evidence against the former.

The declarations of a person are admissible against a party whenever a "privity of estate" exists between the declarant and the party, the term "privity of estate" generally denoting a succession in rights. Consequently, an admission of one in privity with a party to the record is competent. Without doubt, privity exists among the respondents in this case. And where several co-parties to the record are jointly interested in the subject matter of the controversy, the admission of one is competent against all.

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