by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com
MANILA — THE Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) yesterday asked the Supreme Court to set aside its December 7 ruling nullifying the writ of sequestration orders issued against the shares of tycoon Lucio Tan in several companies including Allied Banking Corporation (ABC) and Fortune Tobacco Corporation.
In a 62-page motion for reconsideration, the PCGG through its special legal counsel Catalino A. Generillo, insisted that there is prima facie basis to justify the issuance of the sequestration orders covering ABC, Fortune Tobacco, Foremost Farms Inc., and Shareholdings Inc.
The PCGG, which is tasked to recover ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses, further stressed that the decision of the Sandiganbayan which was upheld by the Supreme Court in its December 7 ruling was null and void as it has no jurisdiction over the petitions for certiorari, prohibition and injunction originally filed by Lucio Tan in the High Court, which the latter in turn referred to the anti-graft court.
The sequestration agency said that Presidential Decree No. 1606, the law creating Sandiganbayan, did not vest the said court with jurisdiction to take cognizance of such petitions.
The PCGG noted that Section 4 of P.D. 1606 gives Sandiganbayan the power to hear cases of violation of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; crimes committed by public officers and employees including those employed in government-owned corporations; and other crimes committed by public officers or employees in relation to their office.
Even if the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over to try and decide Tan’s petition, the PCGG claimed that it erred in holding that there is no prima facie evidence to justify the issuance of the sequestration orders.
“In the instant case, petitioner presented 190 documents as evidence. Respondents failed to rebut, explain or contradict the evidentiary facts upon which the questioned sequestration orders were anchored,” the PCGG said.
The High Court, in lifting the sequestration orders on Tan’s properties, said there is no evidence presented by the government that the shares belong to the government or any of its branches, instrumentalities, enterprises, banks or financial institutions.
“Nor is there evidence that respondents, taking undue advantage of their connections or relationship with former President Marcos or his family, relatives and close associates, were able to acquire those shares of stock.” the SC said.
The Court noted that the only evidence held by petitioner prior to the issuance of the writs of sequestration was the minutes of its meetings.
The PCGG, however, said that it is entitled to the legal presumption that its official duty was regularly performed and that matters discussed during its meetings have been carefully studied and reviewed by the commissioners.
“What is undeniable is the minutes of meetings indubitably prove that the decision to sequester was presented to the Commission. The approval by the PCGG of the recommendation to sequester shows it made its own independent determination of the existence of a prima facie case before it issued the writs of sequestration,” the PCGG added.
Furthermore, the PCGG noted that the anti-graft court failed to take judicial notice of the admission of former First Lady Imelda Marcos that her husband, the late President Marcos, owns 60 percent of the Tan’s companies.
“Sandiganbayan should have taken judicial notice of the admission of defendant Imelda Marcos that President Marcos owns 60 percent of the sequestered companies and his beneficial interests therein were held in trust by respondent Lucio Tan personally and through his family members and business associates who appeared as the recorded stockholders of said companies,” the sequestration agency stressed.
Mrs. Marcos’s admission, the PCGG said, should have put to rest the issue of whether there is prima facie evidence for the issuance of the sequestration orders.
The SC First Division, through Associate Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, earlier affirmed the Sandiganbayan’s ruling that there had been no prima facie basis to justify the government’s sequestration of the subject shares of Tan.
“It must be emphasized that petitioner (PCGG)’s evidence does not show how the properties sequestered were acquired by respondents or that they are ‘ill-gotten wealth’ and whether former President Marcos intervened in their acquisition.” the High Tribunal said.
The controversy involves the sequestration orders issued in 1986 and on January 7, 1987 by the PCGG covering the shares of stock of Tan and the other respondents in the firms. Soon after the issuance of the sequestration orders, the respondents petitioned to have the orders of sequestration lifted.