Marcoses: No basis for court order to confiscate paintings

MANILA, Philippines – Heirs of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Ilocos Sur Representative Imelda Marcos want to keep the priced paintings that the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has ordered confiscated.

In a motion for reconsideration filed Wednesday, October 8, the Marcoses said the court's September 29 order does not have any basis since it is not anchored on any case.

The court issued the writ of preliminary attachment in relation to Sandiganbayan Civil Case No 0141. It is a forfeiture case against the Marcoses covering over $356 million in Swiss bank deposits and later on ill-gotten wealth hidden under a dummy foundation known as Arelma Incorporated.

The Marcoses argued, however, that the said case had been terminated, making the writ void and null. There is no main action that may serve as the basis for the order, they said.

A writ of preliminary attachment is issued by a court ahead of its decision over a forfeiture case. It is meant to protect the victims – in this case, the government – from being defrauded if the court rules in the victim's favor.

The motion was signed by lawyers Robert Sison, Efren Vincent Dizon, and Maria Frances Marfil. Sison is the counsel for Imelda Marcos, Imelda Marcos Manotoc, and Irene Marcos Araneta.

The Marcoses also said that the 156 paintings supposedly in their possession that the government believes to be ill-gotten are not the subject of Civil Case No 0141.

"Nor may it be said that the forfeiture of the subject paintings was a part of the whole case or one of the reliefs sought for in the case since they were never mentioned, even in passing," the motion read.

Of the 156 paintings the court ordered seized, 8 were confirmed to be in the homes of the Marcoses in the Philippines and 4 are in the United States. Another 144 paintings remain missing.

The 85-year-old Imelda Marcos has been charged with various civil and criminal cases in court, but she has never been jailed in the Philippines.

The Marcoses were forced out of power by the 1986 EDSA Revolution, ending their two-decade rule mired with human rights abuses and corruption.

'Arelma case cannot be the precedent'

The Marcoses believe the subject forfeiture case had terminated upon the 2003 ruling on ill-gotten assets hidden under Swiss foundations

A division of the Supreme Court (SC), however, ruled that a separate set of assets after 2003 was covered by the same forfeiture case. 

Still under Civil Case No 014, the SC Second Division ruled with finality on March 12, 2014 that the Arelma assets were ill-acquired by the Marcoses. (READ: Gov't to seize over P147.5-M in Marcos ill-gotten wealth)

The division ruled that although Civil Case No 014 was already decided in relation to the Swiss accounts, it does not preclude the government from seeking judgment over a different subject matter covered by the same forfeiture petition.

The Marcoses argued that the Arelma ruling "in effect amounts to a division of the Supreme Court modifying a decision rendered by the Supreme Court en banc," pertaining to the Swiss ruling.

The Marcoses said the decision in the Arelma case "cannot be cited as a binding precedent." 

"There is nothing whatsoever in the text of the Swiss Banks Deposits Case, not a single word, which would indicate that the judgment therein is a partial summary judgment," the motion read. –