Enrile, 42 Others Named in Final Marcos Suits
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ The government today filed three more civil lawsuits against Ferdinand E. Marcos and associates who allegedly helped the former president plunder billions of dollars during his 20-year rule.
In one of today’s suits, the government asked for $5.05 billion in damages from former defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile and 42 co-defendants, including Marcos and his wife, Imelda.
The suits, the final batch of civil cases against Marcos and his relatives and associates, bring to 35 the number of civil actions naming Marcos. The total amount sought in the suits is nearly $96.7 billion.
Enrile, now an opposition leader, was not included in the other two suits filed today. He was one of more than 50 defendants named in a $10.2 billion suit filed July 22 as part of the government’s effort to recover the so-called ″hidden wealth″ allegedly amassed in the Marcos era.
Today’s suits were the last that the Presidential Commission on Good Government planned to file before a Sunday deadline. After that, government takeovers of companies owned by Marcos and associates would be invalid under the constitution.
Marcos is a defendant in all 35 cases. Solicitor Gen. Francisco Chavez said more suits may be filed later depending on the outcome of investigations.
Commission chief Ramon Diaz told reporters government lawyers would begin compiling evidence against Marcos for criminal charges expected to be filed as soon as possible.
The suit against Enrile also names as defendants Sen. Edgardo Angara and three members of the House of Representatives. Angara, a friend of Enrile, was elected to the Senate last May on Mrs. Aquino’s ticket.
It accuses Enrile and others of ″active collaboration and participation″ in coconut firms illegally acquired by a co-defendant, Eduardo Cojuanco, a cousin of President Corazon Aquino. Cojuanco fled the country after Marcos was ousted in February 1986.
It said the defendants ″allotted to themselves excessive salaries, allowances, bonuses and other emoluments, including huge cash advances in millions of pesos, which to date, remain unliquidated and unaccounted for.″
The suit accused Angara and partners in his law firm of having conspired to establish private banks using government money.
The two other suits, which seek $5.05 billion each, accused sugar baron Roberto Benedicto, Marcos’ brother-in-law Benjamin Romualdez and 71 others of using their links to Marcos for personal gain.
Romualdez was formerly the Philippine ambassador to Washington.
Diaz said a Swiss lawyer helping the commission track down Marcos’ wealth is expected to arrive next week to help prepare criminal charges against the ousted ruler. The government alleges that the money is hidden in Swiss bank accounts and foreign investments.
″The main purpose of this exercise is not just a simple matter of filing criminal and civil cases against Marcos but to see to it that the Philippine government succeeds in bringing back the millions and billions of pesos,″ said Chavez.
Marcos fled the Philippines in February 1986 after a ″peoples’ power″ uprising that resulted in the election of Mrs. Aquino. He now lives in exile in Hawaii.
Enrile, who took part in the uprising against Marcos, is the subject of a contested senatorial race in last May’s general election.
Mrs. Aquino expressed confidence today in central bank Gov. Jose ″Jobo″ Fernandez, named Thursday as a defendant in one of the suits.
″It will be up to the court to decide the case of Jobo, but I believe in the maxim that a person is innocent until proven guilty,″ Mrs. Aquino said. ″And I have absolute confidence in Jobo Fernandez.″
The suit alleges that Fernandez and others conspired to obtain illegal loans for a Marcos associate from the Philippine Export and Foreign Loan Guarantee Corp.
Fernandez held the central bank post under Marcos but was retained by Mrs. Aquino after she came to power.