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Sandigan relaxes procedure, allows reconsideration bid in Marcos forfeiture case

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by Allan Yves Briones

A brief respite was awarded to the Office of the Solicitor General in the aftermath of a procedural flub which junked the prosecution’s motion for reconsideration in a P102 billion forfeiture case.

On September 13, the anti-graft court denied the prosecution’s motion for failing to issue a notice of hearing and for being non-compliant with Sections 4, 5, and 6 of Rule 115 of the Revised Rules of Court.

In their second motion for reconsideration filed last September 27, the prosecution asked the Sandiganbayan 2nd Division to relax procedural rules “in the interest of justice.”

This was opposed by defendants Ramon Monzon, alleged to have been a dummy of the former first lady Imelda Marcos, Cynthia Cheong, Ma. Luisa Nograles and Generosa Olazo, arguing that no leniency should be allowed in the absence of compelling justification beyond simple oversight.

In a resolution promulgated November 6, the court looked favorably upon the prosecution, explaining that an exception may be made as long as it doesn’t prejudice the other party.

“Although the inadvertence of the plaintiff’s counsel is not a compelling or sufficient reason to relax the rule, the Court is of the view that the defendants’ right to due process will not be impinged should the Court act on the earlier motion as they will still be given an opportunity to study and meet the arguments therein for full review and appreciation by the Court,” the resolution read.

Monzon and the others also argued that the prosecution’s motion is the second of its kind, similarly prohibited under the Rules of Court.

However, the court explained that this is not the case.

“[T]he motion…cannot be treated as a prohibited second motion for reconsideration as it does not assail the Decision dated August 5, 2019, but seeks the reversal of the Resolution dated September 13, 2019,” the court said.

Earlier in August, the anti-graft court dropped the P102 billion forfeiture case against the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, his wife, and their alleged cronies including Monzon, Cheong, Nograles and Olazo due to insufficient evidence.

The resolution was written by Associate Justice Lorifel Pahimna, concurred by Division Chairperson Oscar Herrera, Jr. and Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi.

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