Truth prevails with Imelda Marcos conviction, officials say

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 9) — The anti-graft court's guilty verdict on former First Lady Imelda Marcos speaks the truth about the two-decade regime of her late husband, Ferdinand.  

This was the common sentiment of opposition senators and other officials who lauded  the Sandiganbayan's decision sentencing Marcos to a maximum of 77 years in jail for committing seven counts of graft.

"The Sandiganbayan conviction is a faithful reminder that the Marcoses have plundered the nation's wealth and have stolen from the people, no matter how much efforts to revise history are done by the Marcos family and their cohorts," Senator Kiko Pangilinan said in a statement Friday.

"Sa wakas, hindi na puwedeng itanggi na nagnakaw ang mga Marcos mula sa taumbayan (At long last, it could no longer be denied that the Marcos family stole money from the people)," Senator Bam Aquino said in a separate statement.

The Marcos family has refused to admit guilt on human rights abuses and corruption – including an estimated $10 billion (roughly ₱500 billion) allegedly stolen from government coffers – during the late President's term.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Marcos' conviction is a welcome development "in the face of historical revisionism."

"The Commission stresses the need for truth so that we can ultimately hold the dictatorship and their cohorts accountable for their crimes," CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement.

The Office of the Ombudsman filed 10 graft cases from 1991 to 1995, stemming from Marcos' alleged funneling of funds to private organizations she created in Switzerland from 1968 to 1984 while holding various government posts during her husband's term. The Sandiganbayan on Friday found her guilty in seven of these cases involving about $200 million.

READ: Imelda Marcos ordered arrested for seven counts of graft  

"I call on the public to closely monitor this case and all the other cases filed against the Marcoses. We must not allow the Marcos family to influence and undermine our collective process to search for truth, justice and accountability," Senator Risa Hontiveros said.

The 89-year-old Marcos – known for her penchant for designer shoes and jewelry – said she would appeal her conviction.

In 1993, the Sandiganbayan also convicted the former First Lady for graft in a separate case but the Supreme Court overturned the decision in 2003, saving her from a 12-year prison sentence.

Palace: Marcos conviction shows 'impartial' justice system

Malacañang distanced itself from the Sandiganbayan decision, saying it does not interfere with the affairs of an independent branch of government.

"While we note that there are still legal remedies available to Congresswoman Marcos, this latest development underscores that our country currently has a working and impartial justice system that favors no one," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

President Rodrigo Duterte is known for having close ties with the Marcos family, even openly admitting that Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos supported him in the 2016 elections and that he wants someone like former Senator Bongbong Marcos for President.

Marcos critics, particularly human rights victims, rejoiced at the victory but also noted that it was long overdue.

"I'm surprised but very pleasantly surprised, because two decades iyan. It has always been an uphill struggle, then all of a sudden, here it is after so much work. You can see that the local courts somehow are trying to establish their independence," former human rights chair and martial law survivor Etta Rosales told CNN Philippines.

Pangiliinan said the long road to conviction shows "how long and therefore frustrating the Philippine judicial system is, and especially in relation to how powerful and powerfully entrenched the accused are."