In the aftermath of the EDSA Revolution, President Corazon C. Aquino issued Executive Order (EO) No. 1, creating the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) tasked with the recovery of all ill-gotten wealth accumulated by former President Ferdinand Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates. This was followed by EO Nos. 2 and 14, respectively freezing all assets and properties in the Philippines in which the former President, his wife, their close relatives, subordinates, business associates, dummies, agents or nominees have any interest or participation, and defining the jurisdiction over cases involving the ill-gotten wealth. Pursuant to the executive orders, several writs of sequestration were issued by the PCGG in pursuit of the reputedly vast Marcos fortune.
The PCGG issued a Writ of Sequestration sequestering the shares of Marcos and with the Emilio Yap and Eduardo Cojuangco and their nominees and agents in the Bulletin Publishing Corporation (Bulletin) where they own substantial holdings, and another Writ of Sequestration for the shares of stock, assets, properties, records and documents of Hans Menzi Holdings and Management, Inc. (HMHMI).
Is PCGG empowered to sell sequestered assets?
The contention that the sale of the 214 block to the Bulletin was null and void as the PCGG failed to obtain approval from the Sandiganbayan is likewise unmeritorious. While it is true that the PCGG is not empowered to sell sequestered assets without prior Sandiganbayan approval, this case presents a clear exception because this Court itself directed the PCGG to accept the cash deposit offered by Bulletin in payment for the Cojuangco and Zalamea sequestered shares subject to the alternatives mentioned therein and the outcome of the remand to the Sandiganbayan on the question of ownership of these sequestered shares.
Like the remedies of “freeze order” and “provisional takeover” with which the PCGG has been equipped, sequestration is not meant to deprive the owner or possessor of his title or any right to his property and vest the same in the sequestering agency, the Government or any other person, as these can be done only for the causes and by the processes laid down by law. These remedies “are severe, radical measures taken against apparent, ostensible owners of property, or parties against whom, at the worst, there are merely prima facie indications of having amassed ‘ill-gotten wealth,’ indications which must still be shown to lead towards actual facts in accordance with the judicial procedures of the land.” Considering that sequestration is not meant to create a permanent situation as regards the property subject thereof and subsists only until ownership is finally judicially determined, it stands to reason that, upon its dissolution, the property sequestered should likewise be returned to its owner/s. Indeed, sequestration cannot be allowed interminably and forever, if it is to adhere to constitutional due process