EN BANC

 

ALFONSO T. YUCHENGCO AND Y REALTY CORPORATION,

Petitioners,

 

 

- versus -

 

 

THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, FOURTH DIVISION, REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT, ESTATE OF FERDINAND E. MARCOS, IMELDA R. MARCOS, PRIME HOLDINGS, INC., ESTATE OF RAMON U. COJUANGCO, represented by IMELDA O. COJUANGCO, and IMELDA O. COJUANGCO,

Respondents.

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

 

ALFONSO T. YUCHENCGO AND Y REALTY CORPORATION,

Petitioners,

 

 

- versus -

 

 

THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, FOURTH DIVISION, REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT, ESTATE OF FERDINAND E. MARCOS, IMELDA R. MARCOS, PRIME HOLDINGS, INC., ESTATE OF RAMON U. COJUANGCO represented by IMELDA O. COJUANGCO, and IMELDA O. COJUANGCO,

Respondents.

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

 

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,

Petitioner,

 

 

- versus -

 

 

HON. SANDIGANBAYAN (FOURTH DIVISION), ESTATE OF FERDINAND E. MARCOS (represented by its Administrator, the Bureau of Internal Revenue), IMELDA R. MARCOS, PRIME HOLDINGS, INC., ESTATE OF RAMON U. COJUANGCO (represented by its Administratrix, IMELDA O. COJUANGCO), IMELDA O. COJUANGCO, ALFONSO T. YUCHENGCO, and Y REALTY CORPORATION,

Respondents.

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

 

ALFONSO T. YUCHENGCO AND Y REALTY CORPORATION,

Petitioners,

 

 

- versus -

 

 

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT, ESTATE OF FERDINAND E. MARCOS, IMELDA R. MARCOS, PRIME HOLDINGS, INC., ESTATE OF RAMON U. COJUANGCO represented by IMELDA O COJUANGCO, and IMELDA O. COJUANGCO,

Respondents.

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

 

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT,

Petitioner,

 

 

-versus-

 

 

ESTATE OF FERDINAND E. MARCOS, IMELDA R. MARCOS, IMELDA (IMEE) R. MARCOS-MANOTOC, TOMAS MANOTOC, IRENE R. MARCOS-ARANETA, GREGORIO MA. ARANETA, III, FERDINAND R. MARCOS, JR., IMELDA COJUANGCO, ESTATE OF RAMON COJUANGCO (represented by the Administratrix, IMELDA COJUANGCO), PRIME HOLDINGS, INC., ALFONSO T. YUCHENGCO, AND Y. REALTY CORPORATION,

Respondents.

G.R. No. 149802

 

Present:

 

PANGANIBAN, C.J.,

PUNO,

QUISUMBING,

YNARES-SANTIAGO,

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,

CARPIO,

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,

CORONA,

CARPIO MORALES,

CALLEJO, SR.,

AZCUNA,

TINGA,

CHICO-NAZARIO, and

GARCIA, JJ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

G.R. No. 150320

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G.R. No. 150367

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G.R. No. 153207

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G.R. No. 153459

 

 

 

 

Promulgated:

 

January 20, 2006

 

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

 

D E C I S I O N

 

CARPIO MORALES, J.:

 

These five consolidated petitions pray for the nullification of certain issuances of the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case No. 0002, Republic of the Philippines v. Estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos, et al.

 

The complaint in Civil Case No. 0002 (or the case) was filed before the Sandiganbayan on July 16, 1987 by the Republic of the Philippines (the Republic) through the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) against former President and Mrs. Marcos, their three children, and some other individuals. The complaint was later amended to implead additional defendants.

 

The case is for the recovery of alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses, among which are shares of stock in the Philippine Telecommunications Investment Corporation (PTIC): 76,779 shares in the name of Ramon U. Cojuangco, 21,525 shares in the name of Imelda O. Cojuangco, and 111,415 shares in the name of Prime Holdings Incorporated (PHI). PTIC is the biggest stockholder of PLDT, it owning some 28% of the outstanding shares in PLDT at the time Civil Case No. 0002 was filed.[1]

 

In the course of the proceedings in Civil Case No. 0002, the first three petitions assailing interlocutory orders of the Sandiganbayan were filed before this Court.

 

Thus, the petitions in G.R. Nos. 149802 and 150320, filed by Alfonso Yuchengco and Y Realty Corporation, complainants-in-intervention in Civil Case No. 0002, assail via petition for certiorari orders and resolutions of the Sandiganbayan denying their motions to suspend trial pending discovery proceedings and to re-set trial dates (with alternative prayer for a change in the order of trial), and declaring them as having waived their right to present evidence.

 

The petition in G.R. No. 150367, filed by the Republic, assails via petition for certiorari the Sandiganbayan Orders denying its Respectful Motion for Additional Time to Complete the Presentation of Evidence and directing it to submit its offer of evidence within 30 days.

 

During the pendency of these first three petitions, the Sandiganbayan continued with the proceedings in Civil Case No. 0002, no restraining order enjoining the same having been issued by this Court.

The Sandiganbayan, still during the pendency of the first three petitions, promulgated in Civil Case No. 0002 a Partial Decision on May 6, 2002 the dispositive portion of which reads:

 

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the complaint of plaintiff Republic of the Philippines on the PLDT shares subject of separate trial is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.

The Motion for Summary Judgment [filed by Imelda Cojuangco, et al] is hereby GRANTED, and the Complaint-in-Intervention [filed by the Yuchengcos] DISMISSED.

 

SO ORDERED. (Underscoring supplied)

 

 

The last two of the five petitions at bar, both for review on certiorari, were thereupon filed. The petition in G.R. No. 153207 filed by the complainants-in-intervention Yuchengcos, and that in G.R. No. 153459 filed by the Republic, both challenge the Partial Decision.

 

The incidents that gave rise to the filing of the petitions are stated in the minoritys dissenting opinion penned by Justice Cancio Garcia which immediately follows this majority opinion. The dissenting opinion substantially reiterates the draft that Justice Garcia prepared which was used by this Court as a working basis for its deliberations.

 

In issue in these petitions are:

 

1. Whether petitioners in G.R. Nos. 149802, 150320 and 150367 were denied due process when the Sandiganbayan in effect directed them to terminate the presentation of their respective evidence; and

 

2. Whether the Partial Decision being assailed via petition for review in G.R. Nos. 153207 and 153459, conforms to the evidence presented, the law and/or settled jurisprudence.

 

 

There is no disagreement with respect to the disposition-dismissal by the minority of the first three petitions the first having become moot, and the second and third for lack of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Sandiganbayan.[2] There is also no disagreement with respect to the disposition-denial by the minority of the fourth petition (G.R. No. 153207) in the absence of reversible error on the part of the Sandiganbayan.

 

It is with respect to the disposition-denial by the minority of the fifth petition (G.R. No. 153459) insofar as it denied the prayer of the Republic for a judgment ordering the Estate of Ramon U. Cojuangco (Cojuangco), Imelda O. Cojuangco, PHI, their assigns, nominees and agents to reconvey to the Republic 111,415 PTIC shares registered in the name of PHI that the majority does not agree, in light of the immediately following discussions.

 

The Sandiganbayan having held in its 73-page Partial Decision[3] that the Republic has failed to prove that the PLDT shares sought to be recovered are ill-gotten, thus:

 

. . . the Republic has failed to provide such proof of authenticity or reliability of the documents offered by it in evidence. Thus almost all the documents offered by the Republic are photocopies, and no effort was undertaken . . . to submit the originals of said documents, or to have them properly identified, or to otherwise justify the admission of mere photocopies. Not surprisingly, defendants . . . objected to the admission of the Republics documentary exhibits, citing violation of the Best Evidence Rule (Section 3, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure [Rules], the Rules of Presentation of Documentary Evidence (Section 20, Rule 132 of the Rules). The Hearsay Evidence Rule, and the rule as to Purpose/s of Documentary Evidence (Section 34, Rule 132 of the Rules).[4] (Underscoring supplied),

 

 

a discussion of the evidence presented in the case is in order.

 

FACTUAL BACKGROUND OF PHI AND ITS DEALINGS WITH PTIC

 

 

PHI was registered on October 5, 1977 with the following five (5) incorporators: Jose D. Campos, Jr. (son of Jose Yao Campos), Rolando Gapud (Gapud), Renato Lirio (Lirio), Ernesto Abalos (Abalos), and Gervacio Gaviola (Gaviola), with 400 shares each, with a par value of P100 per share. The total amount of capital stock subscribed was thus P200,000.00, P50,000.00 of which was actually paid.[5] Its place of business was at 66 United Street, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila.[6]

 

The five PHI incorporators, in their capacity as stockholders, elected themselves as directors on October 10, 1977. On even date, they elected the following as officers of the corporation:

 

Rolando C. Gapud - President

Jose D. Campos, Jr. - Vice-President

Gervasio T. Gaviola - Treasurer

Francisco G. De Guzman - Secretary

Rodolfo R. Dimaano - Assistant Secretary

 

 

Meanwhile, 54,349 shares in another corporation, PTIC, were contributed to and/or abandoned by one of its stockholders, General Telephone and Electronics (GTE), an American corporation, in favor of PTIC.

 

On December 20, 1977, the PTIC Board of Directors resolved to sell such 54,349 shares to its stockholders in proportion to their holdings.[7] No stockholder, apart from Cojuangco, PTIC President and member of its Board of Directors, expressed interest in purchasing the shares.[8] All the 54,349 shares were then transferred to his name.

 

Cojuangco and Luis Tirso Rivilla (Rivilla), another stockholder of PTIC, together with PHI President Gapud, forged an agreement dated January 27, 1978 referring to the various discussions during which [Cojuangco and Rivilla] offered to sell and [PHI] agreed to purchase partially paid subscriptions and common shares of [PTIC].[9] The agreement which indicated the basic terms and conditions of the transaction states that the number of PTIC shares which Cojuangco and Rivilla were prepared to sell to PHI was 111,415 common shares representing 46.1250% of the subscribed and outstanding shares of PTIC.

 

On April 20, 1978, the PTIC Board of Directors granted Cojuangco and Rivilla authorization to transfer their PTIC shares to PHI.[10]

 

Cojuangco thereafter ceded to PHI 77,719 PTIC shares registered in his name via two separate deeds of assignment both dated May 2, 1978, one for 44,023 shares and the other for 33,696 shares.[11] Rivilla likewise conveyed PTIC 33,696 shares registered in his name to PHI via a deed of assignment also dated May 2, 1978.[12] Thus, a total of 111,415 PTIC shares was transferred to PHI on May 2, 1978.

Gapud and Jose D. Campos, Jr. later assigned all their shares in PHI (400 shares each) to Cojuangco and PTIC Director Oscar Africa (Africa), respectively, via two separate deeds of assignment dated February 18, 1981.[13]

 

On May 9, 1981, Cojuangco and Africa were elected directors of PHI, replacing Gapud and Jose D. Campos, Jr., while the other directors Lirio, Abalos, and Gaviola remained as such.[14] On even date, Cojuangco and Africa were elected by the PHI Board of Directors as President and Vice-President, respectively, while de Guzman and Gaviola remained as Secretary and Treasurer, respectively.[15]

 

Subsequently, by Deed of Assignment[16] dated June 1983 (the day is not indicated), Africa transferred all his 400 PHI shares 240 to Antonio Cojuangco and 160 to Trinidad Cojuangco Yulo. On even date, the remaining incorporators on the board of directors Lirio, Abalos, and Gaviola each executed a deed of assignment transferring their PHI shares to members of the Cojuangco family. Thus Lirio transferred 240 shares to Antonio Cojuangco and 160 to Trinidad C. Yulo;[17] Abalos transferred 320 shares to Ramon O. Cojuangco, Jr. and 80 to Miguel O. Cojuangco;[18] and Gaviola transferred 320 shares to Ma. Victoria O. Cojuangco Yulo and 80 also to Antonio Cojuangco.[19]

 

BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP OF PHI

 

Significantly, respondents in G.R. No. 153459, namely: Estate of Ramon Cojuangco, Imelda O. Cojuangco, PHI, and Imelda R. Marcos all agree with petitioner Republic that PHI has an undisclosed beneficial owner, their only disagreement being who this owner is.

 

The Cojuangcos and PHI in their Comment proffer that the beneficial owners are the Cojuangcos, arguing as follows:

 

x x x The unsupported allegation that President Marcos owned the disputed shares in PLDT, PTIC and PHI may perhaps explain the circumstances surrounding PHIs incorporation, why PTICs stockholders were disinterested in purchasing PLDTs shares in 1977, why PTICs stockholders waived their right of first refusal in 1978, why there are no proper entries in PHIs Stock and Transfer Book, or why the subject shareholdings were not included in Ramon U. Cojuangcos Estate inventory. However, the converse syllogism is not true the details of PHIs incorporation, or the fact that PTICs stockholders were disinterested in purchasing PLDTs shares in 1977, or that PTICs stockholders waived their right of first refusal in 1978, or that there are no proper entries in PHIs Stock and Transfer Book, or that 400 PHI shares were not included in Ramon U. Cojuangcos Estate inventory do not necessarily establish that President Marcos owned the subject shares in PHI, PTIC and PLDT.

 

These circumstances show that PHI had an undisclosed principal and beneficial owner. Subsequent events, i.e. the assignment of shares in 1981 and 1983, reveal and confirm that Mr. Ramon U. Cojuangco and his family were the principal and beneficial owners of PHI, and, corollarily, the subject PHI, PTIC and PLDT shares, not President Marcos.[20] (Emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied)

 

 

Imelda Marcos, on the other hand, consistent with the theory of petitioner Republic, claims that she, her late husband President Marcos, and their family were the beneficial owners of PHI, alleging in her Cross-claim filed before the Sandiganbayan as follows:

 

6.1 PHI was incorporated to serve as the holding company of all the PTIC shares owned by Mr. and Mrs. Marcos and family, in addition to those being held by trustees/nominees like defendants Ramon and Imelda Cojuangco. For this purpose, PHI was organized with the following as incorporators, all of whom were the trustees/nominees of the Marcoses:

 

Jose D. Campos - 400 shares

Rolando C. Gapud - 400 "

Renato E. Lirio - 400 "

Gervaso T. Gaviola - 400 "

Ernesto S. Abalos - 400 "

_______

Total - 2,000

 

x x x x

 

7. Considering that the incorporators of PHI admittedly held the PHI shares registered in their respective name[s] for and in behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Marcos and family, which trust relationship continued even with respect to the incorporators nominees, no third party, including defendants Ramon and Imelda Cojuangco, could have lawfully and rightfully acquired any right over of (sic) said shares in their own right.[21] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

 

 

 

QUANTUM OF EVIDENCE

 

E.O. No. 14-A[22] clearly states that the degree of proof required in cases such as the one at bar is preponderance of evidence.[23]

 

Sec. 3. The civil suits to recover unlawfully acquired property under Republic Act No. 1379 or for restitution, reparation of damages, or indemnification for consequential and other damages or any other civil actions under the Civil Code or other existing laws filed with the Sandiganbayan against Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos, members of their immediate family, close relatives, subordinates, close and/or business associates, dummies, agents and nominees, may proceed independently of any criminal proceedings and may be proved by a preponderance of evidence. (Underscoring supplied)

 

 

The Sandiganbayan, therefore, was not to look for proof beyond reasonable doubt, but to determine, based on the evidence presented, in light of common human experience, which of the theories proffered by the parties is more worthy of credence. The case of Joaquin v. Navarro[24] instructs:

 

x x x Juries must often reason," says one author, "according to probabilities, drawing an inference that the main fact in issue existed from collateral facts not directly proving, but strongly tending to prove, its existence. The vital question in such cases is the cogency of the proof afforded by the secondary facts. How likely, according to experience, is the existence of the primary fact if certain secondary facts exist?" (1 Moore on Facts, Sec. 596.) The same author tells us of a case where "a jury was justified in drawing the inference that the person who was caught firing a shot at an animal trespassing on his land was the person who fired a shot about an hour before at the same animal also trespassing." That conclusion was not airtight, but rational. In fact, the circumstances in the illustration leave greater room for another possibility than do the facts of the case at hand.

 

In conclusion, the presumption that Angela Joaquin de Navarro died before her son is based purely on surmises, speculations, or conjectures without any sure foundation in the evidence. The opposite theory - that the mother outlived her son - is deduced from established facts which, weighed by common experience, engender the inference as a very strong probability. Gauged by the doctrine of preponderance of evidence by which civil cases are decided, this inference ought to prevail. x x x[25] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

 

 

The evidence presented by the parties shows that the preponderance clearly lies with the Republic, but the Sandiganbayan grossly misappreciated it and, therefore, committed a reversible error. In Ramos, Sr. v. Gatchalian Realty, Inc., [26] this Court ruled:

 

Once again, we apply the rule that findings of facts of the Court of Appeals are binding on the Supreme Court and will not be overturned when supported by the evidence on record save in the known exceptions such as gross misappreciation of the evidence or misapprehension of facts.[27] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

 

 

Moreover, the case of Salazar v. Gutierrez[28] teaches:

 

It bears repeating that the finding thus made, although apparently factual in character, is premised upon supposed absence of evidence, and therefore is reviewed by this Court if the premise is clearly contradicted by the record or unjustified upon other considerations which logically lead to a different conclusion, but which the decision under review did not take into account.[29] (Underscoring supplied)

 

 

 

THE TESTIMONIES OF CAMPOS, GAPUD, AND ATTY. FRANCISCO DE GUZMAN (De Guzman) ESTABLISH THE MARCOSES OWNERSHIP OF PHI

 

 

SWORN STATEMENT AND DEPOSITION OF JOSE YAO CAMPOS

 

It is not disputed that Jose Yao Campos (hereinafter referred to as Campos) is a former Marcos crony who, after the February 1986 EDSA Revolution, surrendered to the government substantial assets which he confessed to have held in behalf of Marcos.[30] He is one of the Republics witnesses in the case. In his SWORN STATEMENT dated March 21, 1986 taken at Vancouver, Canada, the authenticity and truthfulness of which was re-affirmed by him during the taking of his deposition on November 23-25, 1994, also at Vancouver, Campos made the following significant admissions:

 

1. My relationship with the then President Ferdinand E. Marcos dates back to the time when he was first elected as Congressman of the then Philippine Congress. The relationship continued when he was then elected President of the Republic of the Philippines. Thereafter I assisted in the organization and acquisition of some business ventures for the former President. Following his directive I instructed my lawyers and requested the assistance of my other business associates and officers of the company to organize, establish and manage these business ventures for and on behalf of the President;

 

2. The companies that we have organized for and on behalf of former President Marcos are listed in Annex A attached herewith;

 

3. In the organization, administration and management of the abovenamed corporations, it was my policy that whenever such a corporation is organized for and on behalf of the intended beneficiaries, I execute and I require all my said business associates to execute a Deed of Trust or Deed of Assignment duly signed in favour of an unnamed beneficiary and to deliver the original copy thereof to the former President. It is in fact my policy and procedure that we disclaim completely any interest in any of such businesses and make it clear to the former President that we hold such interests on his behalf;

 

4. In the latter part of 1979 I suffered a severe heart attack and was confined in the intensive care unit of the Makati Medical Center. x x x

 

5. Occasioned by the withdrawal of my active participation in the management of the abovenamed corporations, Mr. Rolando C. Gapud who was my financial consultant took over the direct responsibility of directing, managing and administering all the activities of the said corporations. However, since Mr. Gapud did not have the administrative staff to efficiently manage the businesses, he requested me that all the employees and officers involved in the organization should continue to remain in the companies even only in a nominal capacity considering that they had previously disclaimed any interest therein. It is for this reason that Rolando C. Gapud and my business associates, namely, Mariano K. Tan, Jose D. Campos, Jr., Luciano E. Salazar, Francisco G. De Guzman, Guillermo C. Gastrock, Ernesto S. Abalos, Gervasio T. Gaviola, Rodolfo Dimaano, Manuel Engwa, Lourdes F. Florentino, Renato E. Lirio, Rafael De Guzman, Dante C. Llapitan, Angel A. Florentin, Daniel Q. Tan and Elizabeth S. Campos continued to be named stockholders in these corporations although they did not have any financial interest therein.[31] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

 

One of the 23 corporations listed in the Annex A referred to above by Campos is PHI.[32]

Another declaration of Campos in the same sworn statement which, though not directly related to PHI, would prove relevant later vis--vis the testimony of de Guzman, another witness for the Republic, is his (Campos) mention of his familys involvement in United Laboratories, Inc. (UNILAB). Campos clarified as follows:

 

x x x x

 

6. I was able to maintain United Laboratories Inc. as the exclusive property of the original stockholders. x x x

 

7. x x x Some of the listed shareholders of United Laboratories are personal holding companies of my family as well as the holding companies of the other shareholders. Again, in any of the personal holding companies listed as shareholders of United Laboratories Inc., Mr. Marcos or his family is not a stockholder. x x x

 

x x x x

 

 

Campos elaborated on some portions of his March 21, 1986 SWORN STATEMENT in his above-mentioned November 23-25, 1994 deposition:

 

3. In your Sworn Statement, page 2, you stated that with respect to the corporations you held in trust for President Marcos, it was your policy that whenever such a corporation was organized, you executed, and you required all your business associates to execute, a Deed of Trust or Deed of Assignment in favor of an unnamed beneficiary, and delivered the originals thereof to President Marcos. x x x Was this policy followed in the case of [PHI]? xxx

 

ANSWER: All the corporations I organized that was the standard policy that we surrendered direct to President Marcos.

 

3.1 Was it also your policy to deliver to President Marcos the stock certificates that you and your business associates held in trust for him?

 

ANSWER: Yes, Mam.

 

3.2 If stock certificates that you and your business associates held in trust for President Marcos were delivered to him was it also your policy to have the stock certificates indorsed in blank? Were the stock certificates in [PHI] indorsed in blank?

 

ANSWER: If there are certificates issued in Prime Holdings, it is the same way it was delivered to him. If there is such certificate issued, it is indorsed in blank and follow the same pattern for all the corporations. Whatever we have decided, we deliver, sign in blank and deliver to him.

 

3.3 Did you and your business associates deliver to President Marcos the stock certificates issued by [PHI]? If not, what did you and your business associates do with the stock certificates?

 

ANSWER: If Prime Holdings certificates have been issued, as I said Mam, it is delivered to the President.

 

4. In your Sworn Statement, page 2, you also stated that it is in fact my policy and procedure that we disclaim completely any interest in the business organized for President Marcos and make it clear to the former President that we held such interests in his behalf. . . . Was this policy and procedure followed in the case of [PHI]? xxx

 

ANSWER: The policy is followed by every corporation that we organized for the President.

 

4.1 Did you and your business associates also disclaim completely any interest in . . . (PTIC) and make it clear to the former President that we hold such interests on his behalf?

 

ANSWER: Mam, as I said, I dont know that Prime Holdings has such holdings of the PTIC shares that you referred to.[33] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

 

 

These statements speak for themselves. Nonetheless, the Sandiganbayan, after finding that almost all the documents offered by the Republic are photocopies (underscoring supplied) and ruling that the same were unreliable, omitted any discussion of the evidentiary weight of the Republics testimonial evidence, including the deposition-statement of Campos quoted above. Notwithstanding Campos testimony linking Marcos to PHI (and thus to the subject PTIC shares pertaining to PHI), the graft court concluded that [t]here is no competent evidence to tie defendant Ferdinand Marcos with PTIC.

 

In so ruling, the Sandiganbayan grossly misappreciated, it bears repeating, the weight of the evidence presented by the Republic, reducing to naught Campos categorical statement that PHI is one of the corporations he organized in behalf of Marcos and that in [a]ll the corporations [he] organized that was the standard policy that we surrendered [a Deed of Trust or Deed of Assignment] direct to President Marcos.

 

The minority, however, attempts to supply what is lacking in the Sandiganbayan decision by citing grounds why this Court should not give weight to the testimony of Campos.

While the minority acknowledges that it is a fact deducible from Campos sworn declarations that he adhered to a set of patterns or practices when he organized corporations for then President Marcos, it opines that Mr. Campos was unable to declare with certitude if these patterns and practices were followed vis--vis PHI. (Underscoring supplied)

 

On the contrary, Campos plainly meant that the patterns and practices he mentioned were followed in all corporations organized on behalf of Marcos, including PHI.

 

The minority goes on to state: Accordingly, the question begging an answer is whether there truly exists, in respect to PHI shares, certificates indorsed in blank or deed of trust or assignment in favor of an unnamed beneficiary delivered to the late President. If there is one person who can provide a satisfactory answer to this question, it is Mr. Campos. But he is not saying anything. (Emphasis supplied)

 

On the contrary, Campos answered the question clearly when he declared that PHI was one of the corporations that he organized for President Marcos and that all such corporations were subject to the same policy regarding the issuance of deeds of assignment in blank.

 

The only issue on which Campos showed a lack of certitude was whether PHI actually held PTIC shares in its name. It must be borne in mind, however, that as earlier stated, it was PHI President Gapud with whom Cojuangco and Rivilla forged an agreement for the two to sell a total of 111,415 of the PTIC shares to PHI as indeed they did convey them on May 2, 1978. Besides, such issue turns out not to have been raised in this case since the existence of such PTIC shares in the name of PHI is not being disputed, as the Sandiganbayan decision[34] states and as the pleadings show.

 

In any event, Campos lack of knowledge regarding PHIs holdings in PTIC cannot be considered fatal to his credibility, since this lack of knowledge is fully accounted for by the extent of Campos participation in the transactions of PHI. The testimony on cross examination of the Republics witness de Guzman is enlightening on this matter.

 

Q [Atty. Manalaysay]: Now, Mr. de Guzman, you also mentioned that Mr. Campos asked you to or instructed you to organized (sic) Prime Holdings, Inc., is that correct?

A: Yes, sir.

 

x x x

 

Atty. Manalaysay: My question to you is after (sic) you received other instructions from Mr. Campos regarding Prime Holdings, Inc. after incorporation?

 

Witness: My recollection is that after, the only instruction I received after the organization was Ang magbibigay sa iyo ng utos dito sa Prime Holdings, Inc. is Mr. Gapud, sir.

 

Q: So, with that you will agree that Mr. Campos did not give any other instructions?

 

A: I dont recall because from then on it was always Mr. Gapud who will call me or talk to me on what is to be done to Prime Holdings, Inc., if there is any at all, sir.[35] (Underscoring supplied)

 

Thus, after Campos organized PHI, he entrusted most if not all of its business transactions to his close associate Gapud, the president of PHI who himself confessed to have acted as a Marcos nominee. Campos lack of knowledge of PHIs holdings in PTIC, therefore, ceases to be a point against the reliability of his testimony.

In a further bid to undermine Campos credibility, the minority, in a glaring slip of itself accord[ing] primacy to speculation, states that, [h]aving suffered a heart attack sometime in 1979, Campos must have in mind the necessity of cutting a deal with the PCGG, so as to relieve him and his family of the enormous pressures they were experiencing at that time, and that Campos, a man in obvious duress, appeared ready to do anything to conclude such a deal.

 

This Court, however, instead of speculating about the motives of Campos, would rather make a fair assessment or evaluation of the truth or falsity of Campos statements. After such an assessment, the Court has come to the conclusion that Campos deposition is worthy of credence.

 

With regard to the statement of Campos that he never had any discussion or correspondence with Marcos regarding the latters beneficial ownership of PTIC and PHI which, to the minority, renders Campos testimony incredible, attention is invited to this Courts injunction in People v. Pailanco[36] that [t]he testimony of a witness must be considered and calibrated in its entirety and not by truncated portions thereof or isolated passages therein.[37]

 

An examination of Campos statement in its proper context reveals that, before he was asked if he ever had any discussions or correspondences with Marcos regarding his beneficial ownership in PTIC or PHI, there was a long line of successive questions that all focused on the PTIC shares held by PHI.[38]

 

Thus, setting aside any preconception that Campos merely cut a deal with the PCGG, or that he was one who was ready to do anything to conclude such a deal, and bearing in mind this Courts pronouncement that even the most candid of witnesses commit mistakes and even make confused and inconsistent statements,[39] it can reasonably be inferred that Campos merely misapprehended the question posed to him and thought that it was still referring only to PHIs holdings in PTIC. Campos should not, therefore, be understood as saying that he never talked to Marcos about PHI; rather, he was referring only to PTIC, and this statement of Campos that he never talked to Marcos about PHIs holdings in PTIC is only consistent with his earlier statement that he was not aware that PHI held such shares.

 

The credibility of Campos thus stands, and his sworn admission that PHI was a dummy corporation organized for former President Marcos constitutes convincing evidence that PHI was beneficially owned by Marcos.

 

DEPOSITION OF GAPUD

 

Gapud, one of the incorporators of PHI, affirmed Campos sworn statement quoted above that he is his associate. His deposition taken at the Philippine Consulate Office in Hong Kong on October 18-20 and December 11-12, 1995 substantially corroborates the statements of Campos and further establishes that PHI was a dummy corporation of the Marcoses.

 

CONSUL AGUILUCHO: Do you know the beneficial owner or owners of Prime Holdings, Inc.?

 

MR. GAPUD: What I know, Madam Consul, is the shares of stock and/or the assignments endorsed in blank were delivered to President Marcos by Mr. Campos.[40]

 

x x x x

 

CONSUL AGUILUCHO: Did you really own the 400 shares of the Prime Holdings?

 

MR. GAPUD: No.

 

CONSUL AGUILUCHO: For whom did you hold those 400 shares?

MR. GAPUD: Well, as I said earlier the shares and/or assignments indorsed in blank were delivered by Mr. Campos to President Marcos.

 

CONSUL AGUILUCHO: The same heirs likewise alleged:

 

In separate Deeds of Assignment dated 18 February 1981, two (2) of the incorporators of Prime Holdings, namely: Rolando C. Gapud and Jose D. Campos, Jr., assigned and conveyed to Messrs. Ramon U. Cojuangco and Oscar Africa, respectively, all their shareholdings in Prime, consisting of four hundred (400) shares of stock each, or twenty (20%) percent each of the shares of stock of Prime (Annexes C and C-1).

 

Question: Based on your personal knowledge, do you affirm or deny the said allegation?

 

x x x x

 

MR. GAPUD: Madam Consul, I think I can only affirm that which pertains to me, namely: the Deed of Assignment that I signed. I will leave it to Mr. Campos to affirm his Deed of Assignment.[41]

 

x x x x

 

CONSUL AGUILUCHO: May we continue?

Showing you the said Annex C now marked as Exhibit F for purposes of this proceeding, do you affirm or deny the authenticity of this document?

 

MR. GAPUD: Yes, I affirm.

 

CONSUL AGUILUCHO: Is it really true that you assigned your 400 shares to Ramon U. Cojuangco?

 

MR. GAPUD: Yes.[42] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

 

 

As with the testimony of Campos, the Sandiganbayan did not explain its reasons for holding that, notwithstanding the existence of Gapuds testimony in the records, there is no competent evidence to support the Republics thesis. The minority, however, passing upon the above-quoted testimony, expresses the view that Gapud contradicted himself with respect to the disposition of his 400 shares in PHI, since it would have been implausible for him to make the assignment to Mr. Cojuangco if the covering certificates had previously been delivered to Pres. Marcos. (Underscoring supplied)

 

This argument, however, misinterprets the statement of Gapud, since he did not specifically state that covering certificates were delivered to President Marcos, but only that shares of stock and/or the assignments indorsed in blank were delivered to President Marcos by Mr. Campos (emphasis and underscoring supplied). Gapud was thus proferring the possibility that only deeds of assignment were delivered to the former President. Hence, there is no reason to read a contradiction into his statements. Significantly, de Guzman would confirm in his testimony that only deeds of assignment, and not stock certificates, were issued in PHI, as will be discussed below.

 

Gapuds statement relating the subsequent execution of deeds of assignment to Cojuangco and his kin does not detract from the prior delivery of blank deeds to President Marcos, especially so in this case where, by Gapuds own recounting, he and his co-incorporators executed the 1981 and 1983 deeds of assignment with the knowledge and authorization of the same person to whom the earlier deeds were delivered President Marcos.

 

VICE CONSUL HERNANDEZ: Can we note your objection and let Mr. Gapud answer?

 

So the aforesaid Deeds of Assignments obviously will be with the knowledge and upon authorization and order of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, is this correct?

 

MR. GAPUD: Considering that Prime Holdings, Inc. was incorporated upon the instructions of former President Marcos, obviously all the nominees would act only upon his authorization. Thats my answer. [43] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

 

 

That the incorporators signed the deeds of assignment as nominees of Marcos, moreover, is consistent with another statement of Gapud which reveals that he received virtually nothing in return for the PHI shares he assigned to Cojuangco.

 

CONSUL AGUILUCHO: How much did you receive as consideration for assigning your shares to him?

 

MR. GAPUD: The consideration for the assignment was that upon my assignment, first, my fiduciary responsibilities as nominee were extinguished, and secondly, I had transferred and extinguished any and all liabilities under the subscription payable.[44] (Underscoring supplied)

 

Moreover, as with Camposs testimony, the minority considers Gapuds supposed ignorance of PHIs holdings in PTIC as undermining his credibility, basing this finding on the following portion of his testimony:

 

CONSUL AGUILUCHO: Do you know anything about the Philippine Telecommunication Investment Corporation (PTIC), 46% of the capital stock of which is owned by Prime Holdings, Inc.?

 

MR. GAPUD: Well, very little except for that which I have read from the newspapers.[45]

 

 

Even a cursory reading of the question posed to Gapud, however, would suffice to clarify what he meant to say. Clearly, Gapud was not being asked whether he knew anything about PHIs holdings in PTIC but only whether he knew anything about PTIC itself as a corporation. Gapuds meager knowledge about PTIC, in spite of PHIs holdings therein, far from being incredible, is perfectly consistent with his admission that he was merely a Marcos nominee. Why expect him to be knowledgeable of PTIC when the person really interested in PTIC was neither him nor anyone else in PHI but their principal Marcos?

 

Gapuds statements thus complement those made by Campos, further strengthening the Republics claim that PHI is a corporation beneficially owned by the Marcoses.

DEPOSITION OF DE GUZMAN

 

The Republic also presented the deposition of de Guzman, former corporate secretary of PHI, taken at the Mandarin Hotel, Makati City on June 12, 2001. His testimony also sheds light on the origins and organization of PHI, and substantially corroborates the statements of Campos and Gapud discussed above. To properly appreciate the import of de Guzmans testimony, it is needful to recall the avowals of Campos regarding his familys participation in UNILAB, as in his (de Guzmans) deposition, he mentions UNILAB several times.

 

Responding to the questions during the taking of his deposition, de Guzman stated as follows:

 

Q: So, you were an in-house counsel for UNILAB?

A: Yes, sir.

 

Q: What was Mr. Jose Yao Campos position or role in UNILAB at that time, in 1969?

A: When I joined UNILAB he was Chairman of the Board, sir.

 

Q: Was he also the majority stockholder of UNILAB?

A: Yes, sir, I think he is a majority stockholder.[46]

 

x x x x

 

Q: Now the original list of stockholders of Prime Holdings, Inc. were Jose D. Campos, Jr., Rolando C. Gapud, Renato E. Lirio, Gervasio T. Gaviola and Ernesto S. Abalos for four hundred shares each. Do you know Mr. Jose D. Campos, Jr.?

A: Yes, sir.

 

Q: Who is he?

A: He is the son of Mr. Jose Y. Campos, sir.

 

Q: And do you know Rolando C. Gapud?

A: Yes, sir. Mr. Rolando C. Gapud used to be a consultant of United Laboratories, sir.

 

Q: And as a consultant what were his duties and functions?

A: The way I understand his relationship was that he is a consultant on financial matters of the company as well as Mr. Campos, sir.

 

Q: How about Mr. Renato E. Lirio, do you know him?

A: Yes, sir. Mr. Renato E. Lirio is an officer of Greenfield Development Corporation which is a sister company of United Laboratories, sir.

 

Q: So, he works with Mr. Jose Yao Campos?

A: Yes, sir.

 

Q: And Gervasio T. Gaviola, do you know him?

A: Yes, sir. Gervasio T. Gaviola was the Treasurer of the company, United Laboratories, sir.

 

Q: And Ernesto S. Abalos?

A: Mr. Ernesto S. Abalos was the Finance Vice President of United Laboratories, sir.

 

Q: Did they all work for Mr. Jose Y. Campos?

A: Yes, sir.[47] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

 

 

The foregoing statements of de Guzman clearly support the thesis of the Republic that PHI is a dummy of the Marcoses, it having been completely organized by associates of Campos, who had categorically testified to having organized PHI for the benefit of President Marcos. On the other hand, there is hardly any evidence on Cojuangcos role in the organization of PHI to substantiate the thesis that the same was beneficially owned by him.

 

De Guzmans succeeding responses further corroborate the testimonies of Campos and Gapud.

 

Q: And you testified that all of these five (5) original stockholders of Prime Holdings, Inc. worked for Mr. Campos?

A: Yes, sir.

 

Q: So, the following year of 1978 you were still Corporate Secretary of Prime Holdings, Inc.?

A: Yes, sir.

 

Q: And were you still taking instructions from Mr. Campos the following year 1978 with regard to Prime Holdings, Inc.?

A: Yes, sir.

 

Q: And how long after that did you continue to take instructions from Mr. Campos with regard to Prime Holdings, Inc.?

A: Possibly until, again Im not too sure about this, but he distanced himself in many operations even of United Laboratories when he had a heart attack in 1979, sir.

 

Q: So are you saying that you took instructions from Mr. Campos with regard to Prime Holdings, Inc. until 1979 when Mr. Campos had a heart attack?

A: Yes, that is the possibility of having instructions from him because after that he really was very inactive in all these corporations and it was then that Mr. Gapud who took over, sir.[48] (Underscoring supplied)

 

 

A little further on, the deposition began to dwell on the matter of deeds of assignment in blank having been issued in relation to PHI shares.

 

 

Q: Was it the standard operating procedure in Jose Yao Campos holdings companies that the stock certificates of the stockholders would be endorsed in blank?

A: Yes, sir.

 

Q: And who would hold custody or possession of those blank endorsed stock certificates?

A: In the case of many of the corporations I think including Prime Holdings, Inc. these are not fully paid shares and therefore, I knew that no stock certificates have been issued, sir.

 

Q: So, specifically in the case of Prime Holdings, Inc. there were no stock certificates issued because the subscriptions were not fully paid?

A: Yes, sir.

 

Q: Do you know if the stockholders of Prime Holdings, Inc., this is prior to 1981, had executed Deed of Assignment in blank for their subscriptions to PHI shares?

A: Yes, sir, the standard operating procedure in the companies of Mr. Campos is that all the subscribers would have either a Deed of Assignment signed or a Deed of Trust, sir.

 

Q: And you are referring to these holding companies that Mr. Campos, a number of holding companies that Mr. Campos have caused to be incorporated, these are the companies?

A: Yes, sir.

 

Q: You said Deed of Trust, would there be a designated trustee?

A: No, sir.

 

Q: So, these are Deeds of Assignment or Deeds of Trust, the beneficiary of which would be left blank?

A: Yes, sir.

 

Q: But the assignors or the trustees or grantors would all sign, would all execute these Deeds?

A: Yes, sir.

 

Q: Who would have possession, you mentioned standard operating procedure or SOP, under that SOP who would hold the blank deeds?

A: A copy of which usually two (2) copies are made, sir.

 

Q: Two (2) originals?

A: No.

 

Q: Xerox copies?

A: No, one original and one xerox copy and the original will be included in the records, sir.

 

Q: The records of that particular company?

A: Yes, sir, and the other one we give it to the Treasurer.

 

Q: Of that particular company?

A: No, to Mr. Gaviola, sir.

 

Q: Mr. Gaviola was the Treasurer of Prime Holdings, Inc. wasnt he?

A: I think he is because he is always, was the Treasurer of many of the companies of Mr. Campos, sir.

 

Q: So, there is the SOP also, Mr. Gervacio Gaviola is the Treasurer of Prime Holdings, Inc.?

A: Yes, sir.[49]

 

x x x x

 

Q: Now, who would hold the records of these companies which would include those blank Deeds of Assignment or Deeds of Trust?

A: Well, the actual custodian of that will be the Legal Department who has all the legal files, sir.

 

Q: Was it not or would you consider it risky have (sic) blank Deeds of Assignment or blank Deeds of Trust of all the shares in this companies be right there in the records, be among the corporate records somebody could take them and put in their names?

A: Maybe there is some risk there but you see, sir, the people in the Legal Department are well trusted by all of us, they have been with the company for many years and the competence that they have established with us and nobody would even get those records without lets say order of Mr. Campos or me as the Corporate Secretary, sir.

 

Q: And who were these trusted people of the Legal Department?

A: The lawyers, sir.

 

Q: Could you give us the names?

A: Yes, two of them died and one of them retired, Mr. Urbano Francisco was the only survivor, sir.

 

Q: Can I have the names of those who died?

A: Ed Halagao, I cannot remember the other one, sir.

 

Q: These are the trusted lawyers of the Legal Department of UNILAB?

A: Yes, sir.[50]

 

x x x x

 

Q: Do you know, so what happened to those blank Deeds of Assignment and Deeds of Trust of Prime Holdings, Inc. that were entrusted with the trusted lawyers of UNILAB?

A: When Prime Holdings, Inc.s records were delivered, all those records, all those papers are with the records, sir.

 

Q: So, you are referring to the 1982 delivery to the representative of Mr. Ramon U. Cojuangco?

A: Yes, sir, except two (2) Deeds of Assignment which were I think made directly afterward when Mr. Gapud and Mr. Jose Campos, Jr. made the direct assignments to persons actually designated in the Deeds of Assignment, sir.

 

Q: Who were those?

A: The shares of Mr. Gapud was (sic) given to Mr. Ramon U. Cojuangco, Mr. Campos, Jr. I cant remember to whom he made the assignment, sir. [51]

 

x x x x

 

Atty. Madamba:

 

Mr. Witness, it appears on page 3 of your Articles of Incorporation that the principal office of the corporation, that is the Prime Holdings, Inc., will be established at or located at Mandaluyong. Was that principal office duly established?

 

Witness:

 

There was no actual office established but that is supposed to be within United Laboratories, sir.[52] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

 

 

Thus, by affirming that PHI was organized by Campos, by identifying all the incorporators and himself as Campos associates, and by revealing that the office of PHI was within the premises of Campos controlled UNILAB, de Guzman substantially corroborates the Campos and Gapud testimonies.

Furthermore, de Guzman also confirmed that all the incorporators of PHI held their shares as mere nominees and that there was a standard operating procedure followed in the holding companies organized by Campos regarding the issuance of deeds of assignment in blank, which is again consistent with the other testimonies mentioned. Notably, de Guzman clarified that no stock certificates were issued in PHI, but only deeds of assignment, which sheds light on the statement of Gapud earlier adverted to.

 

De Guzman may have differed with Campos and Gapud insofar as he stated that the original of the deeds remained with the records of PHI and a xerox copy was handed to its Treasurer Gaviola. This should not, however, obscure the general consistency of his statements with those of Campos and Gapuds, especially when it is considered that, as de Guzman himself testified, the records were under the control of Campos.

 

PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE LIES WITH THE REPUBLIC

 

Clearly, the Republics thesis that President Marcos is the beneficial owner of PHI is deduced from established facts which, weighed by common experience, engender the inference as a very strong probability.[53] Only a Marcos ownership can make sense of the circumstances surrounding the origins of PHI, especially its close ties with UNILAB and the Camposes.

 

Only a Marcos ownership of PHI can plausibly account for the substantially corroborated admissions of Campos and Gapud that they organized PHI in behalf of Marcos. Indeed, even the minority had to acknowledge that Gapud was a mere nominee, merely denying that his principal was Marcos, contrary to Gapuds own admission. However, perhaps unable to account for the undeniable fact that all the incorporators of PHI are Campos associates, the minority implies that the true owner was neither Marcos nor Cojuangco, but Campos himself contrary to the Cojuangcos submission that Ramon Cojuangco was the beneficial owner, and to Campos admission that he organized PHI for President Marcos.

 

Moreover, the thesis that Marcos owned PHI is able to make more sense of the undisputed assignment of PTIC shares to PHI by Cojuangco. If PHI were beneficially owned by Cojuangco, then the transfer of these PTIC shares to PHI would merely have been a transfer to himself. On the other hand, on the thesis that PHI is beneficially owned by Marcos, the assignment thereof to PHI was a transfer from Cojuangco to President Marcos.

 

On the basis of the evidence, therefore, President Marcos owned PHI and all the incorporators thereof acted under his direction. Once this is acknowledged, the following conclusions inevitably follow:

 

1. Cojuangco was elected President and took over the management of PHI in 1981 with the cooperation of the Marcos nominees who, it must be emphasized, still held the majority stockholding as of that date;

2. As the remaining incorporators on the Board divested their shares only in 1983, Cojuangco managed a Marcos-controlled corporation for at least two years;

 

3. The simultaneous divestment of shares by the three remaining incorporators on the Board to Cojuangcos close relatives in 1983 were with the knowledge and authorization of their principal President Marcos.

 

Clearly, all these circumstances mark out Cojuangco either as a nominee of Marcos as was Gapud whom he replaced as President of PHI or, at the very least, a close associate of Marcos. As such, the PCGG which is charged, under E.O. No. 1[54] issued by President Aquino pursuant to her legislative powers under the Provisional Constitution, with assisting the President in regard to, inter alia,

The recovery of all ill-gotten wealth accumulated by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, whether located in the Philippines or abroad, including the takeover or sequestration of all business enterprises and entities owned or controlled by them, during his administration, directly or through nominees, by taking undue advantage of their public office and/or using their powers, authority, influence, connections or relationship[55] (Underscoring supplied),

 

 

can and must recover for the Republic the 111,415 PTIC shares being held by PHI, they bearing the character of ill-gotten wealth whether they be in the hands of Marcos or those of Cojuangco.

 

On the other hand, respecting the thesis that PHI was, from its inception, beneficially owned by Ramon Cojuangco, the Cojuangcos can only point to the deeds of assignment of PHI shares to members of their family as confirming the same. The Sandiganbayan considered these deeds as competent evidence, as opposed to the purported lack of such evidence on the part of the Republic. The most these deeds could show, however, is that the Cojuangcos acquired PHI shares in the years 1981 and 1983, long after the 111,415 PTIC shares were acquired in 1978 by PHI. On the decisive question of whether the incorporators who organized PHI in 1977 acted as Marcos (or Cojuangco) nominees, these deeds are absolutely silent.

 

In marked contrast, the testimonies of Campos, Gapud, and de Guzman, persons who actually participated in the formation and early years of operation of PHI, constitute evidence that directly addresses the critical issue.

 

Indubitably, the preponderance of evidence lies with the Republic.

 

MISAPPLICATION OF BASECO v. PCGG

 

Underlying the finding of the Sandiganbayan that the subject PHI shares are not part of the Marcos ill-gotten wealth is its reliance on the supposed determinative indicia set out in Bataan Shipyard & Engineering Co., Inc. (BASECO) v. PCGG.[56] The Sandiganbayan interprets BASECO to have established the following evidentiary standards:

 

One, evidence indicating manifest partiality and favorable treatment by the former President towards the alleged trustees, as demonstrated by active interplay between him and such trustees and/or presidential interventions which have resulted in inexplicable benefits to the trustees or to the corporations held by him through such trustees; and

 

Two, the existence of documents and records in the possession of the former President which, through indorsements and/or assignment made thereon in blank by his trustees, provide the legal instrumentation for him to assert, now or in the future, ownership or control over the properties held by his trustees and/or to recover such properties from them.[57]

 

 

The foregoing statement is, it bears emphasis, not a direct quote by the Sandiganbayan from the ruling of this Court in BASECO, but the graft courts inference from its reading of the decision. Such inference is thus valid only to the extent that it was logically contemplated in the BASECO decision itself.

 

It bears noting that, in BASECO, this Court determined the extent of the powers vested in the PCGG for the purpose of preserving suspected ill-gotten wealth. These were in the nature of provisional remedies, e.g., sequestration, freeze orders, and the like, preparatory to a judicial finding that such properties are indeed ill-gotten.[58] It is unlike the case at bar where this Court will now finally determine on the merits whether a particular property is, in fact, ill-gotten.

 

A reading of BASECO would reveal that it did not intend to establish evidentiary norms for all future cases involving the Marcos wealth. Nowhere does it state that the failure of the Republic to present as evidence blank deeds of assignment is fatal to its cause. The most that can be gathered from BASECO in this regard is that this Court therein found that there were blank deeds of assignment and stock certificates endorsed in blank recovered in Malacaang which were considered prima facie evidence to justify the exercise of PCGGs powers of sequestration, freeze order, and the like.

 

Nowhere in BASECO is any pronouncement that only such kind of evidence suffices to prove Marcos ownership of corporations, to the exclusion of other evidence such as the deposition-sworn statements of the confessed Marcos cronies in the instant case.

 

EPILOGUE

 

 

In PCGG v. Pea, this Court, describing the rule of Marcos as a well-entrenched plundering regime of twenty years,[59] noted the magnitude of the past regimes organized pillage and the ingenuity of the plunderers and pillagers with the assistance of the experts and best legal minds available in the market.[60] The evidence presented in this case reveals one more instance of this grand scheme. This Court guardian of the high standards and noble traditions of the legal profession has thus before it an opportunity to undo, even if only to a certain extent, the damage that has been done.

WHEREFORE, the petition of the Republic of the Philippines in G.R. No. 153459 is GRANTED to the extent that it prays for the reconveyance to the Republic of 111,415 PTIC shares registered in the name of PHI. The petitions in G.R. Nos. 149802, 150320, 150367, and 153207 are DENIED for lack of merit.

 

SO ORDERED.

 

 

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES

Associate Justice

 

 

 

WE CONCUR:

 

 

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN

Chief Justice

 

 

 

REYNATO S. PUNO

Associate Justice

 

 

 

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING

Associate Justice

CONSUELO YNARES-

SANTIAGO

Associate Justice

 

 

 

ANGELINA SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ

Associate Justice

 

 

 

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ

Associate Justice

RENATO C. CORONA

Associate Justice

 

 

 

ADOLFO S. AZCUNA

Associate Justice

 

 

 

ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.

Associate Justice

 

 

 

DANTE O. TINGA

Associate Justice

 

 

MINITA CHICO-NAZARIO

Associate Justice

 

CANCIO C. GARCIA

Associate Justice

 

 

 

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

 

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

 

 

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN

Chief Justice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] Rollo (G.R. No. 153459), p. 14.

[2] The majority takes exception, however, to the minority observation in its discussion of G.R. No. 150367 that the Republics bid to have Imelda Marcos on the witness stand seems to imply that it cannot prove its case without such testimony, and other statements of similar import.

[3] Rollo (G.R. No. 153459) Vol. I, pp. 9-81.

[4] Id. at 39.

[5] Rollo (G.R. No. 153459), Vol. IV, p. 2594 and 2600.

[6] Id. at 2606.

[7] Id. at 2623-2624.

[8] Rollo (G.R. No. 153459), Vol. III, p. 1730.

[9] Id. at 1734.

[10] Id. at 1738-1739.

[11] Id. at 1434-1437.

[12] Id. at 1438-1439.

[13] Id. at 2320-21.

[14] Rollo (G.R. No. 153459), Vol. IV, p. 2564.

[15] Rollo (G.R. No. 153459), Vol. IV, p. 2564.

[16] Rollo (G.R. No. 153459), Vol. III, p. 2325.

[17] Id. at 2322.

[18] Id. at 2324.

[19] Id. at 2323.

[20] Rollo (G.R. No. 153459), Vol. IV, p. 2876.

[21] Rollo (G.R. No. 153459), Vol. I, p. 432-433.

[22] Amending Executive Order No. 14 DEFINING THE JURISDICTION OVER CASES INVOLVING THE ILL-GOTTEN WEALTH OF FORMER PRESIDENT FERDINAND E. MARCOS, MRS. IMELDA R. MARCOS, MEMBERS OF THEIR IMMEDIATE FAMILY, CLOSE RELATIVES, SUBORDINATES, CLOSE AND/OR BUSINESS ASSOCIATES, DUMMIES, AGENTS AND NOMINEES.

[23] Vide Sandiganbayan Decision: The degree of proof required of the Republic to prove its case is, as is the rule in any other civil case, by a preponderance of evidence. (Rollo at 29).

[24] 93 PHIL 257 (1953).

[25] Id., 269.

[26] 154 SCRA 703 (1987).

[27] Id., 712.

[28] 33 SCRA 243 (1970).

[29] Id. at 247.

[30] This Court, in PCGG v. Pea, observing the great extent of the [PCGGs] accomplishments despite its limited resources, took note of the report of then PCGG Chairman Ramon Diaz as of the end of 1987 which mentioned, among others, the following accomplishments:

 

297 Companies were subject to sequestration (including those whose sequestration was lifted and those surrendered companies of J.Y. Campos and those holding companies whose investments in shares were affected by Writs of Sequestration) x x x

 

SURRENDERED LANDS BY JOSE YAO CAMPOS

Total area in sq. m. of all surrendered properties 19,684,435.45 sq. m.

Disposed to DAR (202 IRC titles) with total area of 13,997,529 sq. m.

Remaining balance of 75 titles recommended for disposal, with total area of 5,686,906.45 sq.m.

(159 SCRA 556, 575-578 [1988]; underscoring supplied)

[31] Rollo (G.R. No. 153459), Vol. III, pp. 1440-1443.

[32] Rollo G.R. No. 153459), Vol. I, p. 557 (item 4.16).

[33] Rollo (G.R. 153207) at 2063-2065.

[34] Rollo (G.R. No. 153459), Vol. I, p. 14.

[35] Rollo (G.R. No. 153459), Vol. I, pp. 1647-1649.

[36] 322 SCRA 790 (2000).

[37] Id. at 797.

[38] 4. 1 Did you and your business associates also disclaim completely any interest in Philippine Telecommunications Investment Corporation (PTIC) and make it clear to the former President that we hold such interests on his behalf?

ANSWER: Mam, as I said, I dont know that Prime Holdings has such holdings of the PTIC shares that you referred to.

5. The records of [PTIC] show that Luis T. Rivilla owned approximately P4,565,750 worth of shares of stock in PTIC and that some time in 1978-1980, he transferred approximately P2,903,762 worth of such shares to Prime Holdings, Inc. Who was the true or beneficial owner of the shares of stock in PTIC transferred by Luis T. Rivilla to [PHI] in 1978-1980?

ANSWER: Any matter that pertain to PTIC, I dont have any knowledge of, Mam.

5.1 Please describe in detail the basis of your knowledge, belief, or information on the true ownership of these shares in PTIC transferred by Luis T. Rivilla to [PHI].

ANSWER: As I stated, I dont know anything about that PTIC what is referred to there.

5.2 Did Prime Holdings, Inc. pay anything to Luis T. Rivilla or to anyone else for the transfer of these shares? What or how much was paid? What was the form of payment? To whom was the payment or payments made?

ANSWER: Mam, I dont really know.

5.3 Please elaborate, if you can, on what you know about the circumstances surrounding the transfer of PTIC shares by Luis T. Rivill to [PHI] in 1978-1980.

ANSWER: Again, I dont know, Mam.

6. The records of [PTIC] also show that Ramon U. Cojuangco owned approximately P12,382,550 worth of shares of stock in PTIC and that some time in 1978-1980, he transferred approximately P7,213,538 worth of such shares to Prime Holdings, Inc. Who was the true or beneficial owner of the shares of stock in PTIC transferred by Ramon U. Cojuangco to [PHI] in 1978-1980?

ANSWER: The same answer, Mam. I dont know.

6.1 Please describe in detail the basis of your knowledge, belief or information on the true ownership of the shares in PTIC transferred by Ramon U. Cojuangco to [PHI].

ANSWER: I dont know Mam.

6.2 Did [PHI] pay anything to Ramon U. Cojuangco or to anyone else for the transfer of these shares? What or how much was paid? What was the form of payment? To whom was the payment or payments made?

ANSWER: I dont know, Mam.

6.3 Please elaborate, if you can, on what you know about the circumstances surrounding this transfer of PTIC shares by Ramon U. Cojuangco to [PHI].

ANSWER: I dont know.

7. Did you ever have any discussions or correspondences with President Marcos regarding his beneficial ownerhip or the beneficial ownership by any member of his family, directly or indirectly, of shares of stock in [PLDT], [PTIC] or [PHI]?

ANSWER: No, Mam. (Rollo [G.R. No. 153207] at 2065-2067; underscoring supplied)

[39] People v. Gusmo, 422 SCRA 580, 588 (2004).

[40] Rollo (G.R. No. 153459), Vol. III, p. 1681.

[41] Id. at 1681-1682.

[42] Id. at 1684-1685.

[43] Id. at 1710.

[44] Id. at 1685.

[45] Id. at 1680.

[46] Id. at 1460.

[47] Id. at 1471-1473.

[48] Id. at 1484-1485.

[49] Id. at 1488-1491.

[50] Id. at 1492-1494.

[51] Id. at 1494-1495.

[52] Id. at 1641.

[53] Joaquin v. Navarro, supra.

[54] Creating the Presidential Commission on Good Government, promulgated February 28, 1986.

[55] Section 2.

[56] No. L-75885, May 27, 1987, 150 SCRA 181 (1987).

[57] Draft Ponencia at 66.

[58] By the clear terms of the law, the power of the PCGG to sequester property claimed to be ill-gotten means to place or cause to be placed under its possession or control said property, or any building or office wherein any such property and any records pertaining thereto may be found, including business enterprises and entities, for the purpose of preventing the destruction, concealment or dissipation of, and otherwise conserving and preserving, the same until it can be determined, through appropriate judicial proceedings, whether the property was in truth ill-gotten. . . (supra, 208-209; underscoring supplied)

[59] No. L-77663, April 12, 1988, 159 SCRA 556, 574 (1988).

[60] Id. at 566.