TO exempt the family of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos from criminal liability if they return alleged ill-gotten wealth would be “a mockery of justice,” according to an opposition lawmaker.
“It is well settled in Philippine jurisprudence that criminal liability is not subject to compromise,” Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
“It is a mockery of justice and an insult to the aggrieved sovereign people to exempt the Marcoses from criminal culpability in exchange for a few pieces of stolen gold bars or even for their entire ill-gotten hoard,” Lagman said.
On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said the Marcoses would not agree to return their alleged ill-gotten wealth if they would be jailed.
He cited the 1998 Supreme Court case Chavez vs the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), wherein the high court voided the general and supplemental agreements between the PCGG and the Marcos heirs.
Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos said last week there were no negotiations yet, but was confident Duterte would end years of litigation over the assets.
Akbayan party-list Rep. Tomas Villarin admitted Congress has the power to enact a law granting the Marcoses immunity.
But “[e]nacting a law giving immunity to the Marcoses would give a wrong signal that committing a crime will pay off in the end as justice is negotiable by the powers that be,” Villarin said in a statement.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd and Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque Jr. said a law granting immunity to specific persons could be questioned in court as it would run afoul of the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
Also, there is already a system in place authorizing the government to enter into compromise agreements, through the PCGG, Pimentel said.
Roque said immunity should not just be given to the Marcoses, and pointed out that Duterte cannot do anything to let the Marcoses off the hook.
“The President is correct. He does not have any power to grant immunity in exchange for the wealth. The only power of the President is granting amnesty, with the concurrence of the Congress and whenever there is a conviction,” he said in a news conference.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also noted that the PCGG is authorized to enter into compromise agreements.
But he made it clear that agreement should be limited to civil cases. “Any compromise agreement shall be valid and binding only upon court approval. No agreement can be made contrary to law or the Constitution,” he emphasized.
‘Admit guilt first’
For Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, the family of the late President Ferdinand Marcos should admit to human rights violations and other crimes before seeking immunity from ill-gotten wealth cases.
“Before we talk about immunity, there should be an admission of the crime. It is hard to forgive when people don’t admit to their faults,” Robredo said in Filipino.
with LLANESCA T. PANTI, JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA AND RALPH VILLANUEVA