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Some Marcos Charges May Be Resolved Soon

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Some of the many legal charges against former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos may be resolved quickly, perhaps in as short a time as 90 days, a judge has predicted.

Judge Thomas Tadeo said he hopes to complete Marcos’ trial within 90 days, after Marcos entered a plea of not guilty Monday to seven charges of tax evasion, the first of about 80 criminal and civil charges the government is filing against her.

The once-powerful widow of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, clutching a silver rosary, pleaded “not guilty” seven times in a strong, clear voice as a court clerk read the charges aloud in a packed courtroom in Quezon City, a north Manila suburb.

An initial trial date was set for next Monday on charges that Marcos, 62, failed to file income tax returns, failed to report the 1989 death of her husband and failed to pay income and estate taxes amounting to $205 million. One count, however, charges she failed to pay 666 pesos, or under $25.

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Marcos’s 34-year-old son, Ferdinand Jr., known as Bong Bong, also pleaded not guilty to failing to report or pay $630 in taxes in 1985.

Scores of journalists, onlookers and supporters shouted, pushed and stood on benches in the small, sweltering courtroom. Electric power went off shortly before the session began, and friends fanned Marcos while she wiped her brow with a white lace hanky.

One court stenographer, Nenita Somera, wore an outfit of red and blue, colors of the Marcos government, and flashed a “V for victory” as Marcos entered the courtroom. “I was born a (Marcos) loyalist, and I will die a loyalist,” she said.

Surrounded by cheering supporters afterward, Marcos told reporters that there was “no let-up of the harassment” of her family. “But the sad part about it is that the ultimate victim of injustice is the Filipino people” because their resources are being spent for the prosecution, she added.

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The chief prosecutor, Aurelio Trampe, said documentary evidence in the case is clear. “I will establish the crime committed as charged,” he said. He said he will ask for the maximum penalty, or five years in prison and $1,800 fine on each count.

The government has accused the Marcoses of looting the Philippines of up to $10 billion during their 21-year reign. They fled the country in 1986 after a popular revolt, but Marcos returned home on Nov. 4 after nearly six years exile in the United States.


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