MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 2 – 2:02 a.m., Aug. 31, 2017) While welcoming the purported offer of the Marcos family to turn over part of their wealth to the government, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said they should return everything plundered during the 14-year dictatorship.
Opposition Representative Edcel Lagman of Albay, who lost a brother and was himself a victim of human rights violations during the reign of Ferdinand Marcos, wants the dictator’s heirs to issue a categorical statement confirming what President Rodrigo Duterte claimed, that they are willing to hand over the wealth, including “a few gold bars.”
In remarks at the mass oath-taking in Malacañang of newly appointed officials Tuesday, Duterte said an emissary had informed him that the Marcoses had agreed to “open everything and probably return, ‘yung mga nakita lang … pati ‘yung ((only what has been discovered … including) a few gold bars.”
Duterte said the Marcoses maintain that the dictator had not been stolen the fortune but was placing it in safekeeping for his eventual return to power. For his part, he said he would “accept the explanation whether or not it’s true.”
Marcos placed the country under martial law in 1972, marking the start of a brutal 14-year dictatorship marked by widespread abuses and the plunder of the nation’s wealth that ended when he was booted out by the 1986 People Power uprising.
Duterte has professed his admiration for Marcos, whom he allowed to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and repeatedly voiced approval of martial law, which he also declared in Mindanao in May when fighting broke out in Marawi City between government forces and extremist gunmen.
“Magandang development ‘yan (That’s a good development),” Alvarez said of the Marcoses’ reported officer, “pero ‘wag sana iyong kapiraso lang, sana iyong buo na (but it shouldn’t be partial but in full).”
He said the Presidential Commission on Good Government should have a full audit of the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth and should have already made substantial strides in recovering this through the years.
“Ang problema, hanggang ngayon, walang nangyayari kaya (The problem is, up to now, nothing has happened so) I filed a bill calling for its abolition,” he said, adding the PCCG’s task can be assigned to the Office of the Solicitor General.
Lagman, on the other hand, said the confirmatory statement from the Marcoses must include the following:
- The specification of the denominations of the amounts and identification of the items to be returned
- The persons or parties in possession of the hidden wealth to be conveyed to the government
- The respective locations of the amounts and items to be surrendered
- Estimated amount of what is earmarked to be returned
- Timeframe for the turnover
- The duly authorized representative of the Marcos family
- Any conditionality for the voluntary partial surrender
Another victim of the Marcos regime, Danilo dela Fuente, said the dictator’s family “should return all ill-gotten wealth, every centavo of it, but plunderers and criminals they remain.”
The spokesman of the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA, said the Marcos’ offer, even if true, “does not mean absolution from their crimes of plunder, human rights violations and massive corruption. We see this as a token and deceptive gesture of a family seeking to complete their political rehabilitation.”
“The political accommodation and rehabilitation by the Duterte government is unacceptable,” said Dela Fuente, one of the named plaintiffs in the class action suit filed against the Marcoses in Hawaii in 1986.
SELDA demanded that Duterte disclose details of what, to them, appear to be “negotiations” with the Marcoses.
“The president should stop speaking on behalf of the Marcoses and disclose to the people whatever has transpired in these talks. Duterte should not think the people have forgotten how he and the Supreme Court have allowed a hero’s burial for Marcos. He should be wary of the people’s protest,” Dela Fuente said.
What’s the motive?
Meanwhile, former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales, who was among along the victims of the Marcos dictatorship, said the family “should not go free.”
“Dapat kasuhan, dapat may pananagutan at may kaparusahan sa pagnanakaw na ginawa nila [They should be sued, they should be made answerable, and they should be punished for the plunder that they committed],” Rosales said Wednesday.
She added that the Duterte administration must know the motive and behind the Marcoses’ supposed offer.
“Ano motibo? Ano nasa likuran nito? At ano kapalit [What’s the motive? What’s behind it? And what’s the trade-off]?” said Rosales.
“All throughout, they have been denying that they have stolen money. So may problema ka riyan na [you have a problem there]. How all of a sudden are they going to admit that they have stolen money and that they are willing to retain ill-gotten wealth?” the former CHR chief said.
“If this is the case, and I doubt that it is, and they are willing to return stolen money…including stolen gold bars, the next thing that we should do is to make them accountable. Nagnakaw kasi sila eh [It’s because they engaged in stealing],” she added.
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