Sandiganbayan stops Marcos Jr.’s testimony

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE Sandiganbayan yesterday stopped Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. from testifying on documentary evidence that was supposed to show that his late father had substantial interests in the assets of tycoon Lucio Tan.

At the hearing yesterday, Associate Justice Ma. Cristina Cortez Estrada chided government lawyers for allowing Marcos to present photocopied documents as evidence, when the rules required original copies.

“Prepare the witness thoroughly or go to another point,” she told Catalino Generillo, a lawyer for the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

She said Tan’s lawyers, led by former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza, would surely object to the use of photocopies.

The contested documents include an alleged certification issued by the US Department of Treasury that certified copies of the business, financial and other documents were acquired by the US customs agents on Feb. 26, 1986, when they examined the cargo and baggage accompanying the Marcos party upon its arrival at the Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii.

Mendoza earlier asked the court to withdraw Marcos as a witness and instead present another witness to avoid delays.

He said it would be hard for them to cross-examine Marcos on the basis of the photocopies of the documentary evidence being presented.

“If the documents are not going to be admitted, what is the purpose of having to testify at this point?” asked Mendoza.

He also told the court he was surprised that after 17 years, the commission still had no copy of the original documents.

He said the commission should have made representations with the US Treasury Department to secure copies of the original documents.

Interviewed after the hearing, Generillo said he did not know why his predecessors did not get the original copies of the documents.

“I do not know. I just came in 1997,” he said.

Testifying on another matter, Marcos said he had personal knowledge that his late father had interests in nine out of the 11 companies owned by Tan.

To bolster this claim, he identified the documents presented to him by Generillo, which supposedly contained a list of the those companies.

Mendoza again objected to the use of photocopied documents.

When asked about the original copies of the articles of incorporation, Marcos conceded that he did not have the originals, which were seized by the US government.

Marcos testified that Shareholdings Inc. was the holding company of the other companies of Tan where the Marcos had business interests. He said this was mainly divided into three other companies: Basic which owned 50 percent, and Falcon and Supreme, both with 25 percent.

He said he had copies of the deeds of sale, deeds of assignment and other documents to prove ownership.

But again, he said, the original documents were with the US government.

Interviewed after the hearing, Marcos criticized the defense lawyers’ claim that he was not a credible witness.

“I cannot see why I cannot be a credible witness because I merely spoke on the things that I knew from my own experience,” he said.

Marcos also insisted there was no deal between the Marcoses and the government.

“We have been trying to come up with a settlement with the Philippine government for over 20 years. Unfortunately, that has not happened,” he said.