Imelda Marcos’ ‘unjustifiable’ absence at Sandiganbayan reading

November 13, 2018 - 2:49 PM
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Imelda Marcos
The Philippines’ anti-corruption court on Friday ordered the arrest of former first lady Imelda Marcos after finding her guilty on seven counts of graft during the two-decade rule of her husband and former dictator, Ferdinand Marcos. (Reuters file photo)

As calls for the arrest of former first lady and Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos intensify, some are questioning her right to avail of legal remedies and appeal her recent conviction of seven counts of graft by the Sandiganbayan.

The questions started after Marcos was reportedly made by the anti-graft court to explain her absence during the reading of the judgment on Friday, November 9.

She was later seen in attendance at the birthday party of her daughter Imee, a senatorial candidate in the coming May 2019 elections, the same night the decision came out.

A Twitter account supporting former solicitor general Florin Hilbay, a known Marcos critic and member of the Opposition Coalition slate for the 2019 senatorial race, was among those who questioned if the older Marcos was still entitled to the legal remedies to appeal her case.

Others have also questioned the effect Marcos’ absence.

Forfeited legal remedies

The quoted provision, Rule 120 Section 6 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure says that the accused will lose his right to avail of the legal remedies, such as making an appeal to a higher court, should he be absent during the reading of the judgment without a justifiable cause.

“The accused will lose his right to avail of the legal remedies, such as making an appeal to a higher court, should he be absent during the reading of the judgement without a justifiable cause.”

The same provision however allows the accused to file a motion for leave of court to avail of the said remedies within 15 days of the promulgation of judgement. If the reasons for the absence are found by the court to be justifiable, the accused will be allowed to avail of the said legal remedies within 15 days of the notice.

The order for Marcos’ arrest released to the media on Tuesday, November 13 orders the forfeiture of the bail bonds she posted by reason of her and her counsel’s “unjustifiable” absence during the reading of the judgement.

Marcos earlier explained that her counsel, Robert Sison, was confined at the Asian Hospital during the reading of the judgment. She added that former Court of Appeals justice Lolong Lazaro will act as her counsel for her appeal while Sison remains confined.

Calls to arrest Marcos grow as questions on warrant continue

Several questioned why Marcos remained free days after the Sandiganbayan released its decision. Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde explained that the police would consider the 89-year-old Marcos’ age and health during her arrest.

Prior to Albayalde’s statement, the PNP explained that it could not arrest Marcos as they had not received a copy of the warrant of arrest.

Receipt by the government body ordered to carry out the arrest is a prerequisite to arresting the accused under current criminal procedure.

Ombudsman prosecutor Rey Quilala confirmed that the warrant may be lifted should Marcos avail of her legal remedies and elevate the case to a higher court. Court officials confirmed on Monday, November 12 that the arrest had been ordered but no warrant was issued.

Groups of Martial Law victims on Tuesday trooped to Sandiganbayan to ask for the warrant of arrest be issued.

Marcos has yet to be arrested as of this writing.