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Judge Refuses to Rule Out Marcos Liability in Wrongful-Death Suit

December 14, 1989

SEATTLE (AP) _ A federal judge Wednesday refused to remove the late Ferdinand Marcos from liability in a lawsuit that accuses him of heading an anti-opposition network that led to the killings of two political foes.

The ruling meant closing arguments will go as scheduled Thursday in the 3- week-old trial, which claims Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes were fatally shot June 1, 1981, because their anti-Marcos activities drew the attention of Marcos intelligence agents.

The Marcoses’ attorney, Richard Hibey, had asked U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein to order a directed verdict in favor of Marcos and his widow, Imelda, removing the case from the jury hearing the case.

Other defendants in the case had opted to have Rothstein judge their liability.

Dr. Leonilo Malabed, a Marcos friend who allegedly maintained a slush fund that paid $15,000 for the murders, asked Rothstein to dismiss him from the case, as did the Philippines government.

Rothstein did not immediately rule on the motions for Imelda Marcos, Malabed or the Philippines, Hibey said.

Three men were convicted of the murders on the theory that Domingo and Viernes were victims of an internal union dispute in the Alaska Cannery Workers Union. Both were union officers.

The two victim’s survivors have brought the wrongful-death lawsuit, which seeks $30 million in damages.

Hibey and Malabed’s attorney, Kate Alfieri, had asked Rothstein to end the case against their clients on grounds that the plaintiffs had failed to show any direct link between their clients and the murders.

George Greer, a local attorney for the Philippines government, said he asked for dismissal under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Under the act, government agents’ actions must be within the scope of their employment for the government to be liable, he said.

The Philippines argues that Marcos’ actions against his opponents were done for his personal gain, Greer said, not on behalf of the country from which he fled upon his overthrow in February 1986.