Former First Lady Imelda Marcos vowed Friday to challenge the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division ruling finding her guilty of seven counts of graft for using her Cabinet position and her being a member of Congress to maintain bank accounts in Switzerland during her husband’s administration.
READ: Ombudsman wants Imelda convicted for graft cases
In a statement, the camp of the 89-year-old Mrs. Marcos, at present representing the 2nd Congressional district of Ilocos Norte, said former Court of Appeals Justice Manuel “Lolong” Lazaro was now studying the ruling to prepare their motion for reconsideration.
“Justice Lolong Lazaro, who has previously appeared as counsel in this case, will act as my counsel in the interim. He is presently studying the decision and has advised us that he intends to file a Motion for Reconsideration,” said the statement, released by the office of her daughter Imee, the incumbent governor of Ilocos Norte.
Mrs. Marcos camp confirmed receiving the decision, adding her counsel of record, Robert Sison, who was also not present during the promulgation Friday, was confined at the Asian Hospital in Alabang, Muntinlupa and would be replaced in the meanwhile by Lazaro.
The Sandiganbayan directed both Marcos, who is running for governor of Ilocos Norte in the 2019 elections, and Sison to explain within 30 days their absence.
Division clerk of court Liezel de Leon, in reading the decision, said Marcos could suffer imprisonment of six years and one month, as a minimum, to 11 years, as maximum, with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
The Fifth Division chairman, Associate Justice Rafael Lagos, issued a warrant of arrest against Marcos, but the court has yet to specify the amount of bail needed for her temporary freedom in the event she would seek bail pending resolution of her motion for reconsideration.
Court officials said Marcos had the right to appeal her conviction to the 15-member Supreme Court.
The Sandiganbayan has previously undone at least one case against Imelda, overturning a 24-year jail sentence in 1993 on graft charges. She ran for Congress and won while her appeal was underway.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte, a lawyer, would not interfere in the decision as the Chief Executive respected the rule of law.
Panelo stressed the Executive Branch did not have any interest “of exerting undue interference or influence in the affairs of another separate and independent branch of the government.”
But Panelo noted Mrs. Marcos’ conviction was not yet final, as he emphasized the functioning judicial system in the country.
Opposition lawmakers welcomed the conviction, as it showed justice meant no one was above the law.
However, Senator Francis Pangilinan said the opposition would like to point out that this case was from at least 34 years ago.
“We hope our courts will see this through conviction,” said Pangilinan, also Liberal Party president.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said, “She’s now 89 years old. Her cases were first investigated more than three decades ago. Her conviction is still subject to appeal.” With AFPREAD: SC zaps bid to reverse Imelda ruling
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