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REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the

Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG),


petitioner,
vs.
SANDIGANBAYAN (Second Division) and FERDINAND R.
MARCOS, JR. (as executor of the estate of FERDINAND E.
MARCOS), respondents.
G.R. No. 148154 December 17, 2007

QUISUMBING, J.:

Facts
Roman Cruz is impleaded as an alleged crony of President Ferdinand Marcos.When the
Presidential Commission on Good Governance went after the cronies, in hopes of recovering
the wealth he and his family and cronies amassed during his reign, an alias summons was
served upon him in Hawaii, his place of exile. Since he was not able to file a responsive
pleading, he was then declared in default, upon motion by the Republic of the Philippines.
When the order of exile was lifted after the death of the fallen President, his wife, Imelda
Marcos moved to set aside the order of default, which motion was granted by the
Sandiganbayan. Respondent Sandiganbayan found that a myriad of events, such as their
exile, President Marcos’ ill health and numerous other civil and criminal suits against the
latter was reasonable cause to lift the order of default. The President’s son, Ferdinand
Marcos, Jr. (Bong-Bong), as the executor of his father’s estate, petitioned the court for
extension of time to file a responsive pleading, which the court granted. However, instead of
filing an answer, Bong-Bong filed a Motion For Bill of Particulars, praying for clearer
statements of the allegations which he called “mere conclusions of law, too vague and
general to enable defendants to intelligently answer.” Such motion was granted by the
Sandiganbayan. The Republic argued that since Bong-Bong filed a motion for extension of
time to file an answer, the Sandiganbayan should not have accepted the former’s motion for
bill of particulars. It argued that the charges were clear, and that other parties, such as Cruz,
also linked to the controversy of ill-gotten wealth, have already filed their own answers, thus
proving that the complaint was not in fact couched in too general terms.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the granting of a Bill of Particulars is warranted in this case

HELD:

Considering that a motion for extension of time to plead is not a litigated motion but
an ex parte one, the granting of which is a matter addressed to the sound discretion of the
court; that in some cases we have allowed defendants to file their answers even after the
time fixed for their presentation; that we have set aside orders of default where defendants’
failure to answer on time was excusable; that the pendency of the motion for a bill of
particulars interrupts the period to file a responsive pleading; and considering that no real
injury would result to the interests of petitioner with the granting of the motion for a bill of
particular. The only objection to the action of said court would be on a technicality. But on
such flimsy foundation, it would be erroneous to sacrifice the substantial rights of a litigant.
While it is true that there was no positive act on the part of the court to lift the default order
because there was no motion nor order to that effect, the anti-graft court’s act of granting
respondent the opportunity to file a responsive pleading meant the lifting of the default
order on terms the court deemed proper in the interest of justice. It was the operative act
lifting the default order and thereby reinstating the position of the original defendant whom
respondent is representing, founded on the court’s discretionary power to set aside orders of
default.
As to the propriety of the granting of the motion for a bill of particulars, we find for
respondent as the allegations against former President Marcos appear obviously couched in
general terms. They do not cite the ultimate facts to show how the Marcoses acted “in
unlawful concert” with Cruz in illegally amassing assets, property and funds in amounts
disproportionate to Cruz’s lawful income, except that the former President Marcos was the
president at the time. That the late president’s co-defendants were able to file their
respective answers to the complaint does not necessarily mean that his estate’s executor will
be able to file an equally intelligent answer, since the answering defendants’ defense might
be personal to them.