Imelda Marcos faces arrest for graft

Imelda Marcos

Imelda Marcos

The Philippines' anti-corruption court on Friday ordered the arrest of former first lady Imelda Marcos after finding her guilty on seven counts of graft during the two-decade rule of her husband and former dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.

The ruling permanently barred Marcos, who is now a member of parliament, from holding public office.

The charges, filed in the 1990s, stem from companies set up by the family in Switzerland prior to her husband's ouster in 1986, CNN Philippines says.

He was accused of amassing more than 10 billion dollars while in office and died in exile in 1989. But his heirs later returned to Manila and have since staged a political comeback.

"While we note that there are still legal remedies available to Congresswoman Marcos, this latest development underscores that our country now has a working and impartial justice system that favors no one", Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

"So this is not yet final and executory", assistant special prosecutor Ryan Quilala told reporters.

The case has been pending with the anti-graft court for 27 years.

Marcos said in a statement her lawyer is "studying the decision and he has advised us that he intends to file a motion for reconsideration".

The court's decision came almost three decades after the case was filed.

"This points to how long and therefore frustrating the Philippine judicial system is", said opposition lawmaker Francis Pangilinan.

Court officials said Marcos, who was not at Friday's hearing, would be able to avoid incarceration by posting an as yet undetermined bail.

"She can elevate it to the Supreme Court if she sees grave abuse of discretion in the Sandiganbayan's decision". She ran for congress and won while her appeal was underway.

Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin said the guilty verdict handed down to Marcos "rejects" the clan's attempt to revise the history of the Martial Law years, which was marred by killings, torture, disappearances, media oppression, and corruption that has left the Philippine economy reeling to this day.

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

President Rodrigo Duterte is known for having close ties with the Marcos family, even openly admitting that Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos supported him in the 2016 elections and that he wants someone like former Senator Bongbong Marcos for President.

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