THE Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan has dismissed a civil case against late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., his wife Imelda and several others in relation to their alleged ill-gotten wealth acquired through huge amounts of loans from state-run financial institutions while the country was under martial law.

In a decision promulgated on February 21, 2023, Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega said the case was dismissed after the plaintiff, which is the Republic of the Philippines, failed “to prove by preponderance of evidence the material allegations contained in the amended complaint.”

The case for the reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution and damages was filed against the Marcoses, Roberto Benedicto, Lusi Yulo, Nicolas Dehesa, Jose Tengco Jr., Rafael Sison, Cesar Zalamea, Don Ferry and corporations Lianga Bay Logging Co., Philippine Integrated Meat Corporation (Pimeco), YKR Corporation (YKR) and Pimeco Marketing Corporation on July 28 1987.

In the amended complaint, it said the respondents acquired and accumulated funds and properties “in concerted efforts” with flagrant breach of trust and their obligations as public office, with grave abuse of right and power and in brazen violation of the laws from December 30, 1965 to February 25, 1986 when the country was under martial law declared by the late President.

It alleged the Marcoses have awarded government contracts to their relatives, business associates, dummies, nominees, agents or persons, including other defendants, who were beholden under the terms and conditions “grossly” and manifestly disadvantageous to the government; misappropriated, embezzled and or converted to their own use of funds of the government financial institutions and engaged in other illegal and improper acts and practices for their own benefit.

“The alleged ill-gotten assets in this case are shares of stock of Pimeco, Lianga and YKR. The Republic’s case is premised on the theory that these corporations are dummy corporations, not owned by Yulo, but merely held in beneficial trust for former President Marcos,” the order reads.

The court said the plaintiff heavily relied on Rolando Gapud’s testimony, which was declared hearsay since he did not take it to the witness stand.

Gapud said that as a financial advisor to the former President, he had personal knowledge that Marcos used his close business associate, Yulo, as a dummy in YKR and Pimeco.

“In a replete number of cases, the Supreme Court ruled that failure to put the affiant on the witness stand is fatal to the case as it renders the affidavit inadmissible under the hearsay rule,” the decision stated.

“The plaintiff further insists that the affidavit of Gapud should be given full credence as it was acknowledged before the Philippine consular Office in Hong Kong. The court is not convinced. While it is true that the affidavit was notarized, the general rules is that affidavits are classified as hearsay evidence, notarized, the general rules is the affidavits are classified as hearsay evidence , unless affiants are placed in the witness stand,” it added.

The court also ordered the lifting of the sequestration order against Lianga Bay Logging Co. and Yulo King Ranch. (SunStar Philippines)