FROM A DISTANCE By: Joey E. Clarin
After two decades of trial, the Sandiganbayan ordered the arrest of Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos after it found her guilty of 7 counts of graft.
This is in connection with private organizations she set up in Switzerland when she was a government official from 1968 to 1986. Each count carries from 6 to 11 years in prison.
The case however, is expected to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court and the former First Lady and her family have a formidable stable of lawyers known to be influential with the Courts.
In 1993, she faced a maximum of 24 years sentence when the Sandiganbayan found her guilty of project in a deal that was judged to be “disadvantageous to the government”. She appealed and was acquitted.
At an old age of 89, Imelda might be spared by sympathetic magistrates from incarceration. The conviction of simple graft allows her to post bail. She might do a Juan Ponce Enrile act.
The world has been astounded by the seizure of millions of dollars established to be ill-gotten wealth and deposited in Swiss banks and the Philippine government’s failure to hold anyone accountable for the crime. Switzerland has turned over the deposits to the Philippine government but no one has been brought to justice for the plunder.
The former First Lady is still fighting efforts of the government to seize her collection of priceless paintings. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas also has in its safekeeping jewelries confiscated from the Marcoses as they fled the country.
The question is, whether Imelda Marcos will ever actually suffer the penalty for graft or her conviction will turn out to be nothing but a farce. We know our justice system well enough not to celebrate prematurely.