Imee: Use Marcos money for budget

- Jess Diaz -
The eldest daughter of the late President Ferdinand Marcos wants the government to use the $650 million Swiss deposits that it claims belong to the Marcos family.

"Kung talagang may pera diyan, gaya nung nasa PNB, gamitin na natin para mapa-kinabangan ng bayan
(If there is really money, like the deposits in the PNB, let us already use it for the benefit of the nation)," Ilocos Norte Rep. Imee Marcos told reporters yesterday.

She was reacting to the warrant of arrest issued by the Sandiganbayan for her mother, Mrs. Imelda Marcos, in relation to graft charges the former first lady is facing. Mrs. Marcos has posted bail.

The money that Representative Marcos was referring to was the Swiss deposits that the government claims belong to the Marcos family and which have been transferred to and held in escrow by the Philippine National Bank.

The money is so far the biggest asset that government prosecutors have identified as belonging to the Marcoses. The most recent estimate puts it at more than $650 million (about P32 billion).

The Ilocos Norte congresswoman said her family has been telling every administration that took power after the Marcos regime that if it was able to pinpoint any Marcos money, including the so-called Swiss deposits, it could take it.

She said the money in the PNB could be used to support the budget.

discuss nga natin ang 2002 budget ngayon at sinasabi nila walang pera (We are now discussing the 2002 budget, and they are telling us there is no money). Yung nasa PNB, it is best that we come to terms with a solution so we would be able to use it," she said.

It is the pragmatic and practical thing to do, she stressed.

She pointed out that as of now, it is only the PNB that is benefiting from the money.

Marcos also expressed the belief that the government does not really have evidence against her mother.

"They are only harassing my mother. If they have the evidence against her, these cases would not have taken that long to prosecute," she said.

She said that the cases against the former first lady have been pending in the Sandiganbayan for many years now.

"If they claim they have the evidence, we have not seen it," she added.

Imee’s brother Ilocos Gov. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos also charged that the Arroyo administration was only pressuring their mother to force her into a negotiated settlement with the government.

"They are really squeezing my mother so that she will negotiate with the government," Bongbong said.

But Bongbong said the "ploy" was not necessary "because we have always said that we are willing to negotiate with the government. In fact, we have always tried to be the ones to initiate these negotiations."

He lashed at the Arroyo administration saying "the government has been completely incompetent in making the bureaucracy run and because they cannot run the government properly, they come to us and squeeze us."

The governor also lamented that the national government is withholding funds that belong to the provinces. - With Teddy Molina











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