THE anti-graft court has ordered former First Lady Imelda Marcos to return P10 million in government funds that her late husband secretly took from the National Food Authority on July 27, 1983.
In a decision released Monday, the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division said the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos pocketed the P10 million that was withdrawn on his orders from the agency’s account at the Philippine National Bank and transferred it to a private account in Security Bank.
Associate Justice and Fifth Division chairman Roland Jurado said the fund transfer was irregular and illegal.
“Premises considered, judgment is rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against defendant Imelda Romualdez Marcos as the legal representative of her spouse, the late defendant Ferdinand Marcos, and in her personal capacity,” the anti-graft court said.
Associate Justices Teresita Diaz-Baldos and Napoleon Inoturan agreed.
Mrs. Marcos, now Ilocos Norte representative, was also ordered to pay 27 years’ worth of interest on the P10-million reimbursement on top of P1 million in moral damages, P500,000 in exemplary damages, P250,000 in nominal damages, P200,000 in attorney’s fees, and litigation costs.
The anti-graft court said the testimony of former NFA Administrator Jesus Tanchanco alone was enough to establish the fraudulent transaction despite the absence of any paper trail.
“Tanchanco’s testimony provided the trail of events and the personalities therein involved, evincing the illegal diversion of funds from the government through its agency, to what convincingly, are private coffers,” the court said.
Tanchanco, who was dropped as a defendant after an immunity agreement with the government in 1988, executed a sworn statement saying he allowed the disbursement of P10 million from the NFA-PNB account on July 27, 1983, on phoned instructions from then President Marcos.
He said it was NFA comptroller Cesar Aquino who made the withdrawal at his order and delivered the money “in three big bags” to then Security Bank president Rolando Gapud, who met them at the back door.
The case against Aquino, who was also named defendant, was dismissed on grounds he simply acted under orders from Tanchanco. The government lawyers failed to present evidence that he profited from the transaction.
PNB vice president Antonio Alcaras and sales and service head Ruby Ocampo both testified that there was nothing on their books about the fund transfer since the bank kept records for only 10 years.