By Lian Buan @lianbuan
MANILA, Philippines – A mockery of the justice system.
This was how Vice President Leni Robredo described the temporary freedom that the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan gave graft convict Imelda Marcos.
Marcos has been convicted of 7 counts of graft for illegally creating and maintaining private Swiss foundations for the benefit of the former first family.
Yet despite an arrest order, not only has a warrant not been released yet, but Marcos was also expressly granted authority to post P150,000 bail while justices of the 5th Division decide if she’s entitled to post-conviction bail.
“Iyong 150,000 pesos na bail, napakaliit considering the enormity noong ninakaw. Pangalawa, barya lang iyon sa kaniya, eh. (The P150,000 bail is a small amount considering the enormity of what they stole. Secondly, that’s pennies to her.),” Robredo said.
Post-conviction bail or bail while appealing a conviction in the lower-level courts like Sandiganbayan is permitted under the Rules of Court, but subject to standards. Under Rule 120, the remedy of post-conviction bail is lost if the convict snubbed his or her promulgation without a justifiable cause.
The Marcos camp was grilled on November 16 for having two different reasons why the former first lady was absent on the day the court issued its verdict. First, they said it’s because of ailments, and then they said it’s because Marcos did not know the schedule due to a household mixup.
Marcos, however, attended the birthday party of daughter Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos on the night of the promulgation, November 9. Marcos said she didn’t want to go to the party but Imee was “crying and begging.”
“In fact, iyong pinaka-insulto sa atin, kasi iyong the day na lumabas iyong conviction, nag-party pa. Pero iyong dahilan niya nga kung bakit hindi siya naka-attend noong conviction, may sakit siya. Parang nagiging mockery iyong justice system. (In fact, that’s an insult to us, because on the day of her conviction, she even went to party. But her reason was because she was sick. It’s like a mockery of the justice system.),” said Robredo, whose vice presidency is being challenged by Marcos’ son, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Why the bail
Fifth Division Chairman Associate Justice Rafael Lagos, who also voted for the conviction, said that the release of the warrant of arrest was held because of Marcos’ pleadings for post-conviction remedies, one of them post-conviction bail.
While they decide that, the 5th Division allowed Marcos to pay a new bail bond of P150,000. The Marcos camp settled bail within 30 minutes, and the former first lady walked out of the court free before lunch on Friday.
Robredo said Sandiganbayan has shown to be selective in this instance, but she still hopes the court will prove to be fair in the end.
“Kung paano niya i-treat iyong mayayaman, sana ganoon din iyong pag-treat sa mahihirap. Kasi kapag hindi niya iyon ginawa, na-e-erode iyong trust and confidence natin sa justice system. (How the court treats the rich should be the same way it treats the poor. Because if it doesn’t, the trust and confidence of the people in the justice system erodes.),” Robredo said.
Robredo, who’s a lawyer, said she has witnessed clients pawn their properties just to be able to post P10,000 bails.
“Tapos itong napakayaman, parang nilibre mo na lang. And iyong nakakalungkot, kasi after conviction. Ito talaga, sana ma-correct. (It’s like giving the rich a free pass. And what is sad is this happened after conviction. I hope this can be corrected.),” Robredo continued.
Marcos, as well as Bongbong and Imee, refused to answer questions from the media on Friday, including a request for reaction on the verdict that even the children benefited from the Swiss foundations worth an estimate of $200 million or P10.6 billion. – Rappler.com