Imelda Marcos arrest warrant issued after failing to appear in court

Ex-Filipino First Lady Imelda Marcos faces years behind bars

The Sandiganbayan, the Philippines' specialist anti-corruption court, ordered that Marcos, 89, be arrested after sentencing her to at least 42 years in prison for hiding stolen public money in several Swiss foundations in the 1970s.

Neither Marcos nor anyone representing her attended Friday's court hearing.

The Office of the Ombudsman filed 10 graft cases from 1991 to 1995, stemming from Marcos' alleged funneling of funds to private organizations she created in Switzerland from 1968 to 1984 while holding various government posts during her husband's term.

Marcos, a sitting three-term congresswoman, has registered as a candidate next May to succeed her daughter, Imee Marcos, 62, as governor of Ilocos Norte, the stronghold of the still powerful Marcos family. "The decision is a welcome relief and mitigates the pain of the past but only a full and voluntary acknowledgment by the Marcoses of their deeds can we say that closure is coming", he added.

"I was jumping up and down in joy in disbelief", said former Commission on Human Rights chairwoman Loretta Ann Rosales, who was among many activists locked up after Imelda's husband, former President Ferdinand Marcos, declared martial law in the Philippines in 1972.

Imelda Marcos was acquitted on Friday in three other cases, which were filed in 1991 and took almost three decades of trial by several judges and prosecutors.

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The widow of the late dictator is facing dozens of protracted graft cases that have hounded her since her family was toppled in an army-backed popular uprising in 1986.

"She can elevate it to the Supreme Court if she sees grave abuse of discretion in the Sandiganbayan's decision".

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

The arrest warrant may not be executed immediately because Marcos can appeal the ruling by the Sandiganbayan court, a prosecutor said.

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.

Imelda's son, also named Ferdinand, nearly won the separate election for vice president that year.

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