William Adan .
NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental – Justice may be slow but it has finally caught up with the wily and elusive Imelda Marcos. The load of guilt is quite heavy and it may finally sink the unsinkable first lady of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Imelda is now facing arrest after the graft court found her guilty of seven counts of graft related to private organizations created in Switzerland while she was a government official from 1968 to 1986.
Sandiganbayan records show that Marcos’ children – former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Jr. and incumbent Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos – were beneficiaries of the Swiss foundations that were created and maintained by their mother to stash ill-gotten wealth.
The court sentenced Marcos to prison for six years and one month to 11 years for each case, a total of maximum 77 years prison term. Imelda, currently House representative of the second district of Ilocos Norte, and who is running for Ilocos Norte governor, is also perpetually disqualified from holding public office.
The conviction of Imelda debunks the revisionist story peddled by the Marcoses and avid supporter, President Rodrigo Duterte, that the Marcos plunder of the nation and the numerous human rights abuses under the strongman’s rule were not proven in court, thus, is a myth, a mere figment of the imagination of their political enemies and critics. For his love of the Marcoses, Duterte threw the rug to the extensive documentation of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, which was created to recover the Marcos ill-gotten wealth; and turned a blind eye to Republic Act No. 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, which provides that compensation for martial law era human rights victims was to be sourced from the P10-billion Marcos ill-gotten wealth that was transferred to the Philippine government through the Dec. 10, 1997 ruling of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court; and the July 15, 2013 decision by the Philippine Supreme Court, reinstating its earlier decision dated Sept. 19, 2000 which forfeited in favor of petitioner Republic of the Philippines the amount held in escrow in the Philippine National Bank (PNB) in the aggregate amount of US$658,175,373.60 as of Jan. 31, 2002.
It appears that Duterte’s love for the Marcoses falls under the blind love category.
But will Imelda land in jail?
For temporary liberty pending outcome of legal remedies (motion for reconsideration and appeal) she may apply for bail. The graft court may or may not grant bail for the congresswoman.
Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court, says that if the conviction is for an offense that is generally bailable such as graft, “the accused may be allowed to continue on provisional liberty during the pendency of the appeal under the same bail subject to the consent of the bondsman.”
But the same Rule permits the Office of the Ombudsman to ask the court to deny or cancel bail if the penalty imposed by the trial court is imprisonment exceeding six years. The conviction of Congresswoman Marcos carries a penalty from 40 to 77 years.
But will the 89 year-old convict serve her term in jail?
Some are saying that with her age she has to be spared from detention like former Marcos martial law administrator Juan Ponce Enrile who is free on bail from a plunder case. Enrile to avoid incarceration pleaded and secured temporary liberty invoking advanced age and ill health.
Imelda could follow suit. She may soon become terribly sick and would negotiate for hospital arrest or detention like plunder-accused former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and would be pardoned, too, by the kind-hearted President Rodrigo Duterte.
It is almost impossible to separate justice and politics in this country. Nonetheless, as former solicitor general Florin Hilbay said “a conviction is a conviction and that establishes an important fact about the Marcoses that we can and should use against fake news and persistent attempts at historical revisionism.”
Indeed, the conviction of Imelda exposes the travesty of the Marcoses’ claim for greatness and innocence from crimes. It is something that cannot be erased by avoidance of penalty.
(William R. Adan, Ph.D., is a retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental.)