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The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Tuesday, December 17, said that the public might cast doubts on martial law and its atrocities following the Sandiganbayan’s recent dismissal of a P200-billion forfeiture case filed against the Marcos family.

On Monday, December 16, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division dismissed Civil Case No. 0002 filed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) in July 1987 against the Marcoses due to lack of evidence.

According to the Fourth Division, the PCGG merely presented photocopied documents without proof of the existence of the originals and that no witness was presented to testify on the execution or preparation of a few documents which were already admitted by the defense as faithful reproduction of the originals.

“It’s sad because while we respect the decision of the court because they had to dismiss it on grounds of technicality dahil nga yung pinakitang ebidensya (because the shown evidence) was not in conformity with the best evidence rule,” said CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia.

“There might be a danger that the public might think that martial law never really happened and the atrocities committed is fake news,” she added.

The CHR expressed hope that the remaining 17 civil cases pending before the Sandiganbayan will not be dismissed as well.

“The challenge is for PCGG and OSG to really build-up their cases, make sure that the remaining cases will not be dismissed on mere technicality. Magaling ang mga abugado sa PCGG at OSG, so naniniwala tayo na kailangan pa nilang magpursige (Lawyers of PCGG and OSG are excellent, so we believe they still have to work further),” De Guia said.

Senate to grill PCGG

Senator Richard Gordon on Tuesday was not happy with PCGG failing to pursue its cases against the Marcoses, saying he would initiate a Senate inquiry and summon PCGG Chair Reynold Munsayac and the other officials organized to recover the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family.

“Let’s fix [the PCGG] because there seems to be something broken in it,” he said.

“They have to explain… It would appear that they are very cavalier in preparing for the [prosecution of] cases. There’s a case of urgency here. [They] are sending the wrong message to our country, that people get away with [their crimes], and that if you’re patient enough, your cases will be dismissed,” he added.

Gordon also said more competent lawyers should be hired by the agency as well as strengthen its legal research.

“They should get more qualified lawyers because the trick here is in the [legal] research and having good lawyers… those who will do the job,” he suggested.

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