President Rorigo Duterte will put the country’s interest first before entering into an agreement with the Marcoses over the reported offer by the family to return a portion of their alleged ill-gotten wealth to the government, a Malacañang official said yesterday. AP/Bullit Marquez, File

Palace: Nation first in Marcos wealth talks
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - September 1, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte will put the country’s interest first before entering into an agreement with the Marcoses over the reported offer by the family to return a portion of their alleged ill-gotten wealth to the government, a Malacañang official said yesterday.

“The President is studying how best to proceed in a manner that will advance the nation’s interest and comply with the law,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.

Abella said certain parties have informed the President that there may be an opportunity for government assets to be returned to the national coffers.

Abella, however, admitted that there is still no clear decision on the proposal.

“As this matter becomes clearer, we will advise what further action will be taken to finally obtain justice,” he said.

Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos said there are no talks yet about the possible return of a portion of their wealth to the government.

She said they are still consulting with their lawyers.

Marcos loyalist and lawyer Oliver Lozano assured the public yesterday that the family’s dollar and gold deposits stashed abroad remain intact.

“But these are frozen and cannot be withdrawn because these were sequestered by the government,” Lozano said.

Lozano, in a letter to President Duterte, said former president Ferdinand Marcos wrote a will on April 9, 1973 saying “My earthy goods have been bequeathed to the Marcos foundation for the benefit of the Filipino people.”

When former president Corazon Aquino assumed office in 1986, she issued an executive order to sequester the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses.

The Aquino government filed a complaint before a US court to confiscate the assets of the Marcos family.

According to Lozano, Marcos offered financial assistance to the Aquino administration but the offer was rejected.

‘Marcos gold can wipe out Phl debt’

The Marcos family’s gold hoard, if returned to the government, could wipe out the country’s national debt, Rep. Lito Atienza said.

Atienza said at the present price of $42,500 per kilo, the 7,000 tons or seven million kilos of gold bars Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Romualdez Marcos claims to possess are worth $297.5 billion or P15.2 trillion.

 “That gargantuan sum could certainly pay for all of our domestic and foreign debt,” he said.

He said the value of the Marcoses’ gold hoard is 4.5 times the 2017 national budget of P3.35 trillion and four times President Duterte’s proposed P3.8-trillion outlay for 2018.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said if the Marcoses return to the government even just half of the gold bars they claim to have, proceeds from the sale of such assets could be used to support the national budget.

 “Maybe we can scrap the plan to impose a P6 tax on diesel, kerosene, cooking gas and bunker fuel for electricity generation, which will definitely make life harder for most of our people,” Albano said.

He said the government could even forgo collection of all taxes for one year or even two years.

 “If that happens, people will probably thank the Marcoses,” he added.

On Wednesday, Atienza revealed that Mrs. Marcos once confided to him that they have 7,000 tons of gold bars stashed abroad. – With Jess Diaz, Perseus Echeminada, Rhodina Villanueva

 

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