‘Imelda Marcos not exempt from arrest’

Former First Lady Imelda Marcos. Inquirer.net photo

Former first lady Imelda Marcos, widow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is not exempt from being arrested and jailed despite her advanced age, various lawmakers said on Tuesday, November 13.

According to them, the police should enforce any order from the court to take her into custody after she was sentenced by the Sandiganbayan to up to 77 years in prison for graft last week.

Senator Francis Escudero, in a television interview, expressed his thoughts about the matter, saying he disliked the comments made by Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde who appeared ready to provide special treatment to the 89-year-old former first lady because of her age.

“I dislike the comment of Albayalde,” Escudero said.

“He has no business actually commenting on those things because as a member of the police force, he’s just supposed to just either implement the law or to obey the order of the court,” he added.

Escudero also said that if the court orders the arrest of Marcos, Albayalde’s opinion on her “age and other things are completely immaterial.”

“And I find it, to say the least, out of place to be commenting on such a thing when everything is in the hands of the court — whether she will be arrested or not and whether she will be allowed to be out on bail or not,” he concluded.

Marcos was found guilty by the Sandiganbayan on Friday, November 9, in seven graft cases filed against her from 1991 to 1995 in connection with Swiss foundations she and her husband established and used to stash more than $200 million abroad while serving as a government official.

‘No legal anchorage’

By the time former president Marcos was toppled in the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, their secret deposits had deposits had ballooned to $680 million.

In a news conference, Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman said there was no law that exempted Marcos from serving her prison sentence.

According to Lagman, a human rights lawyer who fought the dictator, a convict aged 70 or older was “only entitled to a mitigating circumstance.”

Marcos’ advanced age was a “nonissue” in determining whether she should be arrested, he said, and added that not imposing the jail sentence because she was old “has no legal anchorage.”

“After a conviction, no one is exempted from incarceration whether one has held a high position in the government before or is an incumbent official of the government,” Lagman said.

He reiterated the Supreme Court’s reminder to lower courts to observe “grave caution” in granting bail to convicted offenders, as well.

The Sandiganbayan said Marcos’ absence appeared to be “unjustified” when it handed down its verdict and ordered her arrest

Under Rule 120 of the Rules of Court, a convict who fails to appear without justifiable cause would “lose the remedies available in these rules against the judgment and the court shall order his arrest,” as reported by the Inquirer.

A motion for leave of court was filed by Marcos’ lawyer, Manuel Lazaro, on Monday, November 12, to avail the defense of postconviction remedies, which could include staving off her arrest and justifying her absence from the promulgation.

However, a pending motion would not prevent the release of the arrest warrant.

Victims of the dictatorship led by Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda) denounced the continued absence of an arrest warrant for Marcos.

The guilty verdict was welcomed by Selda chair Trinidad Herrera-Repuno, but demanded Marcos’ immediate arrest.

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