MANILA – Imelda Marcos, the widow of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was sentenced on Friday to up to 11 years in prison on a number of corruption charges dating back to her term as the governor of Manila between 1975-1986.
A special appeals court issued an arrest order against Marcos, 89 after sentencing the former first lady to imprisonment of between 6-11 years for siphoning $200 million of public funds to Swiss entities through seven transfers.
Imelda, 89, was not present when the sentence was read out and has been disqualified for life from holding public office, although she had recently announced plans to contest elections for the post of governor of the Ilocos Norte province.
However, as Marcos is allowed to appeal to the Supreme Court, she can continue in her position as a member of the House of Representatives, whose mandate ends next year.
She will also be able to continue her election run until the court rules on her appeal.
Prosecutor Ryan Quilala told reporters that her immediate arrest was not ordered by the top court as it was likely that the court would impose a fine and she would be granted bail as the case proceeds.
The appeal could delay the case, which was filed in 1991, for years.
Marcos was acquitted of three other corruption charges.
Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda governed the country after the 1965 presidential elections until a peaceful popular revolt forced them into exile in 1986.
During the nine years of the martial law imposed by Marcos – between 1972-1981 – at least 3,240 people were killed, 70,000 were imprisoned and 34,000 were tortured, according to Amnesty International data.
The former president died in Hawaii in the United States in 1989 and his widow and children had returned to the country in 1992 to face more than 400 judicial proceedings, although none had led to a conviction until now.
According to the Philippine Commission on Good Government, the wealth acquired illegally by the Marcos family is estimated to be between $5 billion to $10 billion, majority of which are hidden in accounts outside the country.