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Duterte to press Congress on immunity for Marcoses

In exchange for the recovery of a portion of the Marcoses’ alleged ill-gotten wealth, President Duterte will encourage his congressional allies to grant immunity to the late dictator’s family. AP/Bullit Marquez, File

MANILA, Philippines — After moving to abolish the Commission on Human Rights, the next mission for the House of Representatives could be the grant of immunity from further criminal prosecution to the Marcoses.

In exchange for the recovery of a portion of the Marcoses’ alleged ill-gotten wealth, President Duterte will encourage his congressional allies to grant immunity to the late dictator’s family.

The President has vowed to recover the Marcos wealth during his term.

“I will make it possible,” Duterte told reporters after visiting the wake of two soldiers killed during operations in Marawi City at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig late Tuesday.

He said he would encourage the Senate and the House of Representatives to craft a new law that will grant immunity from criminal prosecution to the Marcos family in exchange for the return of a portion of their wealth stashed abroad.

“Congress might decide to pass a law to allow the government to negotiate with the Marcos family. They should be in talks with the Department of Justice or representatives of the finance department and Central Bank,” Duterte said.

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“I cannot agree or disagree with a proposition na wala akong authority. The President, remember, only enforces the agreements,” he added.

The President acknowledged that it is hard for the government to get a hand on the Marcoses’ wealth due to the strict provisions of the Bank Secrecy Law.

The President earlier confirmed that he has talked with Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos about a possible deal on returning their hidden wealth to the government.

Duterte said the Marcos family was willing to return to the government the money deposited in offshore accounts and gold bars that were acquired during the more than two-decade dictatorship of the late strongman Ferdinand Macos.

The government has recovered billions of pesos worth of assets illegally amassed during the Marcos regime, including bank deposits, jewelry, artwork and real estate property. But so far, none of the Marcoses have been convicted and sent to prison, although they still face several criminal cases in connection with ill-gotten wealth.

The return of stolen assets will not erase criminal liability. The family is still holding on to assets that include priceless paintings by Old Masters such as Michelangelo and Vincent van Gogh.

Opposition lawmakers have objected to the offer of the Marcoses, saying the country would be on the losing end of the deal.

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