Tan asks court to bar extensions in graft case
Lawyers of businessman Lucio Tan on Tuesday asked the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division to set Aug. 10, 2009 as the final deadline for the Office of the Solicitor General to present more evidence in the P51-billion Marcos ill-gotten wealth case involving Tan's assets.
Estelito P. Mendoza and Orlando A. Santiago, counsel for Tan and his companies, noted that the court’s directive for government lawyers to terminate its presentation of evidence was issued way back April 23, 2009 but they have yet to comply.
They said government lawyers only have themselves to blame if their presentation is still incomplete until now – almost 22 years since the case was first filed.
CC No. 0005 was filed in court in July 1987, but the government made modifications and submitted an amended complaint in 1990 and a second amended complaint in September 1991. Tan challenged the case before the Supreme Court which upheld the government stand and ordered a full trial in 1999.
In a motion dated July 11, the OSG asked the court for an extension of 30 days in which to file its formal offer of exhibits or until August 10, 2009.
In a nine-page resolution promulgated July 20, the graft court junked the government’s appeal seeking to set aside the April 23 order to end its presentation. The ruling effectively barred the OSG’s attempt to get former First Lady Imelda Marcos and Tan’s brother Mariano Tanenglian to testify against him.
The Sandiganbayan said it gave no less than 17 extensions for government lawyers to complete their presentation between May 16, 2006 and April 23, 2009.
“This Court cannot forever be waiting for the plaintiff to present all its witnesses. There comes a point when the case should be put to rest and not be allowed to linger in its docket with no end in sight,” the graft court declared.
Presiding Justice Ma. Cristina Cortez-Estrada penned the ruling concurred in by Associate Justices Roland B. Jurado and Napoleon E. Inoturan.
Civil Case no. 0005, filed in July 1987, named the Marcos estate, former first lady Imelda Marcos and former Central Bank governor Gregorio Licaros and former Philippine National Bank president Panfilo Domingo, both deceased, as respondents.
The Marcos family claims that at least 60 percent of Tan’s holdings in his various companies acutally belonged to them and was only entrusted to him by the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.