Tortured claims

Tortured claims

By Solita Collas-Monsod
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:22:00 10/03/2009

SO NOW it is all out in the Open.

IT’s in this column two weeks ago, I stated that the government didn’t seem to want to win its Sandiganbayan Civil Case 005 against 29 individuals (including Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda Marcos, Lucio Tan and Mariano Tanenglian) and 40 corporations (including Tan’s flagship corporations). Why? Because, among others, it was dragging its feet in offering immunity to Mariano in exchange for his turning state witness against his brother Lucio. Mariano and his lawyers had actually gone to the Sandiganbayan, asking it to compel the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to act on the deal which was on the table.

Let us make no mistake. Tanenglian’s testimony on business deals and other transactions between Tan and Marcos would certainly strengthen (beyond all legal machinations) the case against Tan, confirming as it would, Bongbong Marcos’ testimony on the matter, as well as the documentary evidence that PCGG lawyer Catalino Generillo had painstakingly put together (before he was fired by the Office of the Solicitor General). After all, Tanenglian was known as Lucio’s right hand man for over 40 years and the treasurer of all the Tan corporations, until a rift between the brothers occurred early this year. (Tanenglian was prevented from entering corporate offices and removed from all his board memberships.) Tanenglian knows where all the bodies are.

In other words, Tanenglian’s testimony, in exchange for immunity, offers the best and strongest chance the government would ever have of winning a case against Tan. (It has lost all others.)

All these considerations, however, seem to have carried no weight with Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera. In fact, two days after my column came out, the newspapers reported that in a legal opinion sent to the PCGG, she had recommended that Tanenglian’s “application for criminal and civil immunity” be rejected by the PCGG.

How can anyone justify turning her back on this golden, almost heaven-sent opportunity to take advantage of the Tan consigliere? That’s not how Devanadera looks at it. She wants the deal “rejected outright.” Why? From what can be gathered from the news reports, firs t, she claims that the deal will be grossly disadvantageous to the republic, because, among other things, while Tanenglian obliges himself to provide useful information once the immunity agreement is executed, there is no certainty that he will provide useful information at all, and yet the case against him will be dropped and any sequestration or lien on his property will be dismissed. (NB: I am informed that the draft agreement between Tanenglian and PCGG was patterned after the latter’s agreement with Placido Mapa Jr. –both provide for the revocation of the immunity if the terms are not complied with.)

She also claims that Tanenglian’s motives for turning state witness are obscure, and she suspects that the proposed grant of immunity may be used by Tan and the other defendants, in connivance with Tanenglian, to protect their shareholdings by transferring their shares of stocks in favor of Tanenglian, so that the shares will now be out of the government’s reach. But in almost the same breath, she also says that she doesn’t want the government to get entangled in the crossfire between the two “warring” brothers.

And then, she opines amid all this that Tanenglian’s admissions would have “zero credibility” since they are coming out after more than 20 years, and it would be better for the republic to rely on Bongbong.

The last time I saw such tortured, tenuous claims from her was when, as acting justice secretary, she overruled her prosecutor—with unseemly haste—and found that there was probable cause to file murder charges against Louie Gonzalez because the Makati Medical Center, where Louie was confined under restraints on the night of the murder, was 15 minutes from the murder scene, and it was “not impossible” for him to have done it.

But let’s leave the merits (or lack of them) of her Tanenglian opinion, and turn our attention to certain glaring inconsistencies between her stand and that of her underlings.

Number one, why did the OSG itself, in a motion for reconsideration to the Sandiganbayan last May, manifest that the testimony of Mariano Tanenglian, among other witnesses, was “essential to fortify its (plaintiff) claims and to give the Honorable Sandiganbayan a well-informed set of facts to serve as basis for its ruling on the case”?

Number two, why did the OSG, through Associate Solicitor Anthony Lemuel T. Lim, contact Tanenglian’s lawyers and inquire about the possibility of his being a state witness?

Number three, why did Lim, State Solicitor Mauricia Dinopol and Assistant Solicitor John Emmanuel Madamba meet in their office with Tanenglian’s lawyers; with subsequent meetings on July 8 and July 13, where an agreement in principle was reached, subject only to the formal OSG opinion?

What those three events suggest is that Devanadera’s underlings were very eager to get Tanenglian as state witness. They wanted to win. But then, along comes Devanadera, overturning their plans at the last minute, and coming out with a convoluted legal opinion to justify her actions.

Which all leads to my last two questions: Why does Devanadera want to lose the case against Tan? And what is President Macapagal-Arroyo going to do about it? I’d ask the justice secretary first, of course, but that would be Devanadera too.


Anonymous said...

Wala ng pag asa ang Pilipinas!

Si GMA at Teodoro ay pareho lang!

Anonymous said...

Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera was quoted in earlier reports as saying it would only be “a matter of time" for him to be transferred to a Spanish prison under the RP-Spain Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement.

She also said the development showed the present administration is “criminal-friendly."

Anonymous said...

“Sol-Gen. Devanadera has been giving my attorneys the run-around ever since Malacañang announced a month ago that it will not contest any motion for my release. Now, all of sudden, she’s visible again and in fighting form – only she’s out to defend the government’s immoral, illegal and unjust right to prosecute and incarcerate the innocent,” Beltran said.

“Sol-Gen. Devanadera should refrain from sounding high and mighty as if she’s genuinely defending the criminal justice system,” Beltran said.

Anonymous said...

pres legal counsel sergio apostol - ateneo law aquila legis
solgen devanadera - ateneo law
usec manuel gaite - ateneo law/aquila legis
sec toting bunye - ateneo law /aquila legis
dbm sec andaya - ateneo law /aquila legis
abalos bagman jimmy paz - ateneo law
mike arroyo bagman nani almeda - ateneo law /aquila legis
ombusdman merceditas gutierrez - ateneo law

in the words of sergio apostol himself ' our fraternity is illegal '

Anonymous said...

MANILA, Philippines – The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has disqualified Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera and former energy secretary Raphael Lotilla from the list of nominees for two vacant seats as associate justice of the Supreme Court because of pending cases against them at the Office of the Ombudsman.

In October 2006, former Ilocos Sur governor Luis “Chavit” Singson had filed charges against Devanadera and 42 other officers of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), Bulk Handlers Inc. (BHI) and Poro Point Industrial Corp. (PPIC) in connection with the alleged anomalous supervision and operation of the Poro Point Special Economic and Freeport Zone in San Fernando, La Union.

Anonymous said...

Devanadera is also facing another graft case involving alleged anomaly in the purchase of books when she was still head of Office of Government Corporate Counsel, according to her office.

Earlier, the Ombudsman announced that the solicitor general is facing 15 other charges from anonymous complainants.

Anonymous said...

The JBC disqualified the newly-appointed justice secretary after the Ombudsman certified that cases against her are still under investigation.

The JBC deferred voting for two weeks to wait for the action of the Ombudsman on Devanadera's pending cases, which include a plunder suit filed by Ilocos Sur Governor Luis Chavit Singson.

In an earlier interview with, Sen. Francis Escudero said Devanadera has 17 complaints filed against her.

These cases cost Devanadera the SC nomination for the third time; the first was in 2007. Devanadera was also eliminated from the race for the post left by Justice Ruben Reyes on January 3, 2009.

Anonymous said...

In an earlier interview with, Sen. Francis Escudero said Devanadera has 17 complaints filed against her.

Anonymous said...

The 8-page Supreme Court judgment of Conchita Carpio-Morales, on July 4, 2008, dismissed the unverified letter-complaint of "Concerned Citizens" which charged Agnes VST Devanadera, Rolando Faller and Santiago Varela of engaging "directly or indirectly in partisan political activities" in the last elections

Anonymous said...

In 2002, Jimenez chaged that Devanadera went to his house to extort money. She contradicted the accusation by alleging that she politically contributed to Jimenez’ wife, Aleli Panascola's 2001 election campaign as mayor of Mauban, Quezon.