Ex-Filipino First Lady Imelda Marcos faces years behind bars

Ex-Filipino First Lady Imelda Marcos faces years behind bars

This was the common sentiment of opposition senators and other officials who lauded the Sandiganbayan's decision sentencing Marcos to a maximum of 77 years in jail for committing seven counts of graft.

Marcos, a sitting three-term congresswoman, has registered as a candidate next May to succeed her daughter, Imee Marcos, 62, as governor of Ilocos Norte, the stronghold of the still powerful Marcos family.

He was accused of amassing more than US$10 billion while in office and died in exile in 1989. But his heirs later returned to Manila and have since staged a political comeback. Imelda Marcos in particular was known for her flaunting her opulent lifestyle while the country languished in poverty and civil unrest.

Government prosecutor Ryan Quilala told reporters that Marcos and her husband opened and managed Swiss foundations in violation of the Philippine Constitution, using aliases in a bid to hide stolen funds.

"The couple opened all those accounts in Switzerland, and they used pseudonyms to hide their ownership".

She was given 30 days by the anti-graft court to explain her absence during the promulgation. "The decision is a welcome relief and mitigates the pain of the past but only a full and voluntary acknowledgment by the Marcoses of their deeds can we say that closure is coming", he added.

Marcos critics rejoiced at the news of the conviction, which came almost three decades after the case was filed in 1991.

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Neither Marcos nor anyone representing her attended Friday's court hearing. The Sandiganbayan on Friday found her guilty in seven of these cases involving about $200 million.

The court has previously undone at least one case against Imelda, overturning a 24 year jail sentence in 1993 on graft charges.

The family's notoriety stems back to Ferdinand Marcos declaring martial law in 1972.

In the decades since his ouster the effort to recover the pilfered money has been halting and uneven.

President Rodrigo Duterte, an ally of the Marcoses, said past year the Marcos family had indicated a willingness to return a still-unspecified amount of money and "a few gold bars" to help ease budget deficits.

He has put the count under protest and hopes to run for president after Duterte's term ends in mid-2022.

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