The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed an anti-graft court’s decision forfeiting the jewelry collection of former First Lady Imelda Marcos in favor of the government.
No less than Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno of the First Division penned the ruling that denied a petition by Mrs. Marcos and daughter Irene M. Araneta to return the “Malacañang” collection that the Philippine government seized in 1986 when the Marcoses fled the country after a people’s revolt ended the 20-year diçtatorship of then President Ferdinand Marcos.
In 2014, the Sandiganbayan handed the jewelry collection, estimated to be worth between $110,055 and $153,089, to the government.
“The Sandiganbayan correctly held that the forfeiture was justified and that the Malacafiang Collection was subject to forfeiture,” the High Court said.
It said the amount of the jewelry collection was disproportionate to the Marcoses’ legitimate income pegged at US$ 304,372.43.136 only.
“We reiterate what we have already stated that whenever any public officer or employee has acquired during his incumbency an amount of property which is manifestly out of proportion to his salary as such public officer or employee and to his other lawful income and the income from legitimately acquired property, said property shall be presumed prima facie to have been unlawfully acquired.”
The High Tribunal did not give credence to the claim of the Marcoses that they were deprived of due process since they were not given the opportunity to prove that the collection was acquired legally.
“This allegation cannot be given credence for being utterly baseless,” the High Court said.
The Malacañang Collection is kept in the vaults of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).