Philippines' ex-first lady Imelda Marcos to appeal court's graft ruling

Ex-Filipino First Lady Imelda Marcos faces years behind bars

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

The corruption court found Marcos guilty of seven counts of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

But Marcos, 89, famous for a huge collection of shoes, jewellery and artwork, can avoid arrest and remain free if she appeals the decision and if denied, she can challenge it at the Supreme Court.

"He is presently studying the decision and has advised us that he intends to file a motion for reconsideration", she added.

According to the decision made earlier today, Imelda will be facing six years and one month in prison and "up to 11 years for each count".

Marcos was, however, acquitted in three of her other graft charges involving local corporations due to insufficiency of evidence.

Imelda was minister of human settlements from 1976 to 1986 and concurrent Metro Manila governor from 1978 to 1984.

Because of her position in the government, she was "prohibited by the Constitution from having any interest during her term of office" in these businesses. However, they estimate the total to be around $200 million.

Further complicating the political situation is that Marcos managed to win a seat in the House of Representatives four times despite these long-standing legal complaints, and is running for governor of the Ilocos Norte province, a position now held by her daughter Imee.

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Congressman Tom Villarin of the opposition Akbayan Party said Marcos "can't invoke her age nor humanitarian grounds for her not to serve the sentence".

"Unless the judgment has become final, nothing could be done against Mrs. Marcos", Castro said.

This is not the first time that the former first lady has faced corruption charges.

President Rodrigo Duterte, an ally of the Marcoses, said a year ago 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.

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

A spokesman for the Philippine president indicated on Friday that Duterte will not intervene with the court on Imelda Marcos' behalf.

"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", Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo maintained that the government respects the decision of the court, citing its non-interference policy on the affairs of the separate branch of government.

The guilty verdict against Imelda is the first to hold her criminally liable for hiding stolen wealth in Switzerland using shell foundations.

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