Nat’l Treasury gets last tranche
MANILA, Philippines - The government has recovered $29 million or P1.3 billion from the Swiss accounts of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his family, which was left in a Singapore bank since 2003.
The funds, composed of $16.8 million and 4.2 million British pounds, was part of the Marcos fortune stashed in Swiss bank accounts under the name of five foundations, said Andres Bautista, chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the agency handling the recovery of the Marcos ill-gotten wealth.
“With regard to the Swiss accounts, this is the last, unless we are able to gather other accounts,” Bautista told a press briefing yesterday.
The money, recovered over the last week, is part of the more than $712 million from Marcos’ secret Swiss accounts now in government hands.
Switzerland lauded the development.
“We welcome the clarification on the status of the funds contested before the Singaporean courts,” Swiss Ambassador Ivo Sieber told The STAR. “It further advances the successful restitution by Switzerland and the Philippines of the Marcos accounts confiscated in Switzerland and returned to the Philippines.”
Bautista said the PCGG remitted the money to the National Treasury on Feb. 5 and 10.
In December last year, the Singapore appellate court granted ownership of the $29-million Swiss funds to the Philippine National Bank (PNB). The fund had grown from $23 million in 2003 due to earned interest.
The government won ownership of the funds after several years of litigation in Singapore courts over claims by victims of human rights violations under Marcos’ rule and private foundations representing the Marcoses.
Bautista said while the court ruled that the PNB has legal title to the account, the bank kept the money in its capacity as a trustee for the Republic pursuant to an escrow agreement with the government.
Marcoses no longer involved
Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was nonchalant when asked to react on the PCGG report.
He said his family has not been involved for a long time now in any court proceedings regarding the ill-gotten wealth.
“We no longer appear in any of those proceedings since the parties involved are the human rights claimants and the Philippine government,” he said.
$683 million recovered
The PCGG had recovered a total of $683 million from the Swiss accounts of the Marcoses. Of the amount, P10 billion was allotted for the compensation of the human rights victims.
Bautista said last month the government was targeting at least P50 billion or $1.1 billion more.
“There is still a lot of work that can be done in respect to pursuing ill-gotten wealth. We should not allow the taking of ill-gotten wealth to go unpunished,” he said.
In 1997, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court ordered the secret Marcos accounts transferred from the Swiss bank to the Philippine government, subject to certain conditions.
The first condition was met in July 2003, when the Supreme Court (SC) declared the Marcos Swiss funds ill gotten.
The SC ruled that the Marcoses’ wealth in excess of their total legal income of around $304,000 from 1965 to 1986 was presumed to be ill-gotten.
The second condition was met when President Aquino signed the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
Under the measure, at least P10 billion from the alleged Marcos wealth will be used to pay the victims.
Bautista said the P10 billion remitted by the agency to the National Treasury was more than enough to pay the victims of human rights violation committed during the Marcos regime.
Since its creation in 1986, the PCGG has recovered P166 billion or over $4 billion of the estimated $10-billion ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their cronies.
The PCGG was created by virtue of Executive Order No. 1 signed by former President Cory Aquino, which mandates that all recovered Marcos assets should be used to fund agrarian reform programs.
Marcos died in exile in Hawaii in 1989 without admitting any wrongdoing during his presidency.
Over 200 cases filed
Bautista said the government had filed more than 200 civil cases for the recovery and forfeiture of ill-gotten assets, including real estate amounting to about P30-40 billion, or $667-$890 million, from the Marcos family, their cronies and associates.
It is also seeking more than 150 paintings of “prominent masters and artists” collected by the Marcos family that went missing after the Marcoses were forced to flee from the presidential palace during the February 1986 people power uprising.
Bautista declined to comment on whether he believes Marcos’ widow Imelda and their three children are still living off their hidden wealth.
Imelda is a member of the House of Representatives. Her eldest child, Imee, is governor of their northern home province of Ilocos Norte, while her son, Ferdinand Jr., is a senator.
Her other daughter, Irene, has kept away from politics. – With Marvin Sy, AP