Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban is curious why the Sandiganbayan allowed former First Lady and now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos to post bail after she was convicted of seven counts of graft.
In his November 25 column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Panganiban noted how quickly the Sandiganbayan allowed Marcos to post a P150,000 bail barely a week after the Fifth Division found her guilty.
“Strange is her immediate release, because the order was signed solely by Lagos (the two Division members, Maria Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega and Mañalac did not sign), and because her ‘Motion for Leave of Court to Avail of Post-Conviction Remedies’ had not yet been ruled upon,” he said, referring to Fifth Division chairperson Justice Rafael Lagos.
“Strange also why the prosecution did not object to, and meekly accepted, the grant of bail,” Panganiban added.
The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division found Marcos guilty of graft over her alleged financial interests in foundations based in Switzerland when she was Minister of Human Settlements and an interim member of Congress during the presidency of her husband, Ferdinand Marcos.
The former First Lady was sentenced to a minimum of six years and one month to a maximum prison sentence of 11 years for each of the seven counts of graft she was found guilty of.
Panganiban said the 27-year delay in Marcos’ conviction was due to several factors, first of which was the consolidation of the cases filed against her in the Fifth Division.
“Apart from the consolidation, the other causes of delay are the (1) inhibitions of the former ponentes, (2) midstream amendments of the charges, (3) various motions to quash filed by the accused (which reached, and had to be decided first by, the Supreme Court), (4) reinvestigation of the charges by the Ombudsman, (5) many postponements asked by both the prosecution and the defense, etc,” Panganiban explained.