Imelda Marcos allowed to stay free as she seeks remedies against conviction

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The Sandiganbayan is allowing former first lady and now Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos to avail of legal remedies following her conviction for graft.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 30) The Sandiganbayan allowed former first lady and now Ilocos Norte Representative Imelda Marcos to avail of legal remedies following her conviction for graft.

In its resolution, the court cited Marcos' right to avail of legal remedies against her conviction.

"Penal law being favorable to the accused, substantive justice necessitates that Ms. Marcos be restored in her standing in Court and be recognized to her right to pursue legal remedies against the judgment of conviction," the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division said in a decision dated November 28, 2018.

Marcos was also granted temporary liberty while she pursues such remedies.

She was required to post a cash bond of P300,000, which is double the amount of her original bond. The court noted that an accused may continue enjoying provisional liberty during the pendency of an appeal or a motion for reconsideration as provided in the Rules of Court.

On November 9, the Fifth Division handed down a guilty verdict against Marcos for using her position in government to maintain Swiss bank accounts during her husband's regime.

But Marcos failed to attend the court sentencing on her graft case. 

She then filed a motion for a 'leave of court' to allow her to pursue post conviction remedies, which led to the deferment of the issuance of an arrest warrant following the guilty verdict against her.

When she finally appeared in court on November 16, Marcos explained she did not know about the scheduled court sentencing. She also said that she was feeling sick that day.

State prosecutors opposed Marcos's motion for leave, and questioned her explanation, citing the fact that she attended her daughter's birthday party that night. She then posted P150,000 for her temporary freedom while the court decided on her appeal for post-conviction remedies.    

While it noted inconsistencies in Marcos' statements, the court believes she did not willfully defy the court's process when she failed to attend the court sentencing.

It cited Marcos' insistence that she had no idea about the scheduled promulgation, and that she would have come even if she was feeling sick had she known.

"Such statements invite leniency on the part of the Court, considering that in the process, Ms. Marcos surrendered and placed herself within the reach and arm of the law," the court explained.

Marcos was given fifteen days to avail of post-conviction remedies, particularly either a Motion for Reconsideration or Notice of Appeal.

Earlier this week, Marcos already filed a notice of appeal asking the Sandiganbayan to forward the records of her case to the Supreme Court, where she plans to question her conviction.

The court said the motion was premature since it had yet to decide on Marcos' motion for leave of court at the time.