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Marcos wealth in escrow now $676-M

- Jose Rodel Clapano -
The escrow account of the Marcos family at the Philippine National Bank now amounts to $676.1 million, a PNB official reported to the Sandiganbayan yesterday.

The fund’s total amount rose from $675,215,638.75 to $676,158,233.33 as of Dec. 31, 2002, PNB president Lorenzo Tan said in a report submitted to Sandiganba-yan acting Presiding Justice Minita Chico-Nazario.

As the custodian of the controversial account, the PNB was required by the anti-graft court in a Feb. 10, 1999 ruling to submit a quarterly report on the status of the fund.

The bank was also required, through another resolution dated April 21, 1999, to submit within 15 calendar days from the end of each month a report on every change in investment or placement of any portion or all of the "escrow funds."

The funds consist of the accounts of five Marcos foundations: the Azio-Verso-Vibur, Xandy-Wintrop, Charis-Scolari-Valamo-Spinus Avertina, Trinidad-Rayby-Palmy, Rosalys-Aquamina and Maler.

According to a two-page schedule of consolidated balances per foundation prepared by the PNB’s Efren de la Cruz, Aquamina has a total of $11, 191.46 cash in banks (clearstream); $118,440,470.09 cash in banks (fixed deposits); $56,554.36 accrued interest receivable-fixed deposits; $14,647,192.14 investment in stocks and bonds-foreign accrued interest receivables-stocks and bonds; $1,740,585.03 accumulated market gain/losses — stocks and bonds, and $40,989.92 fees/expenses payable or a total in original currency of $131,010, 833.10.

Avertina has $11,202,633.85 cash in banks (clearstream); $393,367,029.59 cash in banks (fixed deposits); $151,920.48 accrued interest receivable-fixed deposits; $28,820,995.40 investment in stocks and bonds-foreign; $807,383.56 accrued interest receivable-stocks and bonds; $783,801.45 accumulated market gain/losses stocks and bonds; and $1,336,873.05 fees/expenses payable or a total of $433,796,891.28.

Palmy has $1,602,436.61 cash in banks (clearstream); $26,530,780.92 cash in banks (fixed deposits); $10,685.59 accrued interest receivable fixed deposits and $88,233.47 fees/expenses payable or a total of $28,055,699.65.

Vibur has $321,036.40 cash in banks (clearstream); $5,751,406.93 cash in banks (fixed deposits); $2,066.28 accrued interest receivable-fixed deposits; $18,202.20 fees expenses or a total of $6,056,307.41.

Maler has $810.94 cash in banks (clearstream); $23,480,447.64 cash in banks (fixed deposits); $9,147.91 accrued interest-receivable-fixed deposits; $500,000 investment in stocks and bonds-foreign; $11,013.70 accrued interest receivable-stocks and bonds; $14,189 accumulated market gain/losses-stocks and bonds and $68,022.07 fees/expenses payable or a total of $23,947,587.12.

Arelma has $10,000 deposit with Goodsil Andeson Quinn LLP.

When the fund was discovered by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) in 1986, it was only $356 million.

Following two judgments on Dec. 10, 1997, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court ordered the funds — then already $567 million — transferred to the custody of the Sandiganbayan.

The fund was then placed in an escrow account at the PNB, pending final decision on its ownership.

On Sept. 19, 2000, the anti-graft court’s first division then chaired by Presiding Justice Francis Garchitorena declared that the escrow fund belongs to the government and should be forfeited in favor of the government.

However, the five justices of the Sandiganbayan special division, including Garchitorena, in a 3-2 vote, reversed the Sept. 19 ruling on Feb. 1, 2002.

The special division said that since the ownership issue is still unsettled, there could be no valid presumption that the Marcoses acquired the funds illegally.

"Until the ownership of the funds is established before this court, it cannot be assumed that the funds in escrow or any specific portion thereof has exceeded anybody’s legitimate income, much less could it be deemed to have been of illegal provenance," the court said.

Garchitorena, who penned the Feb. 1, 2002 resolution, noted that the PCGG, which represented the government in the case, indirectly acknowledged the legitimacy of the "constructive claim" of the five Marcos foundations to the escrow fund.

The admission, according to Garchitorena, was supposedly made by the PCGG when in a transaction dated April 16, 1999, it endorsed the withdrawal of $150 million from the escrow deposit to be used for the payment of reparation to 10,000 private human rights claimants.

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