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Duterte claims Marcos ill-gotten wealth 'still unproven’

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Duterte claims Marcos ill-gotten wealth 'still unprovenâ
Duterte, who had heaped praises on the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in his previous speeches, said the accusations against the former first family have remained unproven.
AP / Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has raised doubts on allegations that the Marcoses have amassed ill-gotten wealth despite previous court rulings that forfeited some of the family’s assets in favor of the government. 

Duterte, who had heaped praises on the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in his previous speeches, said the accusations against the former first family have remained unproven.

“Until now you have not proven anything except to sequester and sell – hindi mo nga sigurado kung talagang kay Marcos ba ‘yan? Hindi (You are not even sure whether they belong to Marcos),” Duterte said during a convention of mayors in Manila last Tuesday. 

“As I said, there is the Ecclesiastes 3. There will be a time to be silent, there will be a time to just say nothing. But there will be a time for reckoning. There’s always a time for war,” he added. 

Duterte made the remark as he was justifying his decision to allow the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, a move that human rights groups view as an attempt to rehabilitate the image of the late strongman. 

“Who are allowed to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani? The law says soldiers or presidents. That’s the law. The other law what they want to say is that Marcos was a dictator that he stole (from the country’s coffers),” he said. 

Marcos, whose administration has been tainted with allegations of cronyism, corruption and human rights violations, was ousted by the historic 1986 People Power Revolution.

His successor, the late former president Corazon Aquino, formed the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses.

The PCGG has recovered more than P171 billion of the supposed Marcos ill-gotten wealth as of 2017, a mere fraction of the P530 billion that the former first family allegedly stole from state coffers.

More than 200 cases related to the Marcos wealth remain pending in courts. 

While Marcos loyalists claimed that none of the corruption allegations against the former president has been proven, there have been court decisions that forfeited some of the former first family’s wealth in favor of the government. 

In 2003, the Supreme Court awarded to the government at least $658 million in Swiss bank deposits that Marcos and his wife Imelda supposedly stashed and hid “under layers and layers of foundations and corporate entities.”

According to the ruling, the Marcoses had “failed to justify the lawful nature of their acquisition of the said assets” so the Swiss deposits “should be considered ill-gotten wealth and forfeited in favor of the state.”

In 2014, the high court upheld the forfeiture in favor of the government the Arelma funds that were deposited in the United States. The ruling affirmed an earlier court decision declaring all assets under the Arelma Foundation among the ill-gotten wealth of Marcos. 

Two years ago, Duterte revealed that the Marcoses have expressed readiness to return wealth accumulated during the 20-year reign of the late strongman.

He said a spokesman for the Marcoses told him that the late president had kept the wealth “to protect the economy.” 

Duterte has said the negotiation for the return of the Marcos wealth would require the approval of Congress.  

Meanwhile, human rights lawyer and senatorial candidate Chel Diokno said Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth is not fake news.

He advised the Marcoses and Duterte not to revise Philippine  history. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe

CORRUPTION FERDINAND MARCOS RODRIGO DUTERTE
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