This just in: Imelda Marcos is (finally!) being arrested after having been found guilty of seven counts of graft, with the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division sentencing her to imprisonment for up to 11 years for each count and banning her from holding any position in public office (although Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez clarified that she can still hold on to her current gubernatorial bid). The guilty verdict came after the court found that the lady dictator transferred “$200 million to seven Swiss foundations during her term as Metro Manila governor in 1975.”
In case you’re not in the know, doing that is banned in the 1973 Constitution. Ever heard of the term “offshore bank account” in cop shows? People open accounts in places like the Cayman Islands and Switzerland, where there’s minimal government regulation but also political stability, usually under phony names, to hide their large amounts of ill-gotten cash. Which is what Imelda Marcos and her late husband did. “Para itago ‘yong account nang hindi natin makita, gumamit sila ng mga pseudonyms, si Presidente (Marcos) ang ginamit niya parang William Saunders, si Imelda Marcos ang ginamit niya Jane Ryan,” Assistant Special Prosecutor Ryan Quilala said after the hearing.
And though the Marcoses didn’t technically make offshore bank accounts, that’s pretty much what they did with the Swiss foundations. They transferred the money from foundation to foundation, covering their tracks by revolving the funds.
In any case, the sentencing of Marcos is a small victory for Filipinos everywhere. Though this case still does not make up for all the things she and her husband did to our country while they were in power (and as the opposition groups are reminding us, we should still continue “demanding accountability from the Marcoses”), it’s at least a start.
However, before you start singing a chorus of “Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead,” remember that graft is a bailable crime. This means that if she pays a certain amount determined by the court, she can avoid going to jail as long as she still attends her bail hearings and any other subsequent hearings related to her case. Although, considering her and her family’s track record of playing hooky from their own legal proceedings (she didn’t even attend the hearings for this one), there’s a chance she’ll end up going to prison for violating her bail anyways.
To dash your hopes a little bit more, Imelda’s also planning to file a motion for reconsideration. With a case that seems as clean-cut as hers though, it doesn’t seem likely that the court will change its mind. At least, one can hope.
Featured photo from Inquirer.net
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Writer: ZOFIYA ACOSTA