True intent of ‘compromise’ with Marcoses not wealth recovery but immunity – Lagman

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Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos at the height of their power. Photo from the Presidential Museum and Library.

MANILA, Philippines — The compromise agreement, ostensibly for the recovery of the Marcos wealth, that lawyer Oliver Lozano has proposed, is actually meant to free the late dictator’s family from criminal liability for what happened during his rule, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said on Wednesday, January 3.

Lagman said there is no need for a compromise settlement if the only objective is the recovery of the Marcos “hoard” because there is an existing executive order authorizing the president to do this.

“The bottom-line in the proposals for a compromise agreement, albeit denied by the Marcos heirs, is to secure criminal immunity for the Marcoses from the Congress in exchange for the compromise settlement,” Lagman said in a statement.

However, he stressed that “any law giving criminal immunity to the Marcoses will be against well-entrenched Philippine jurisprudence that criminal culpability is not subject to compromise.”

He cited the case of Chavez vs. PCGG (December 9, 1998) in which the Supreme Court, 19 years ago, struck down as illegal a compromise agreement granting the Marcoses immunity from criminal prosecution.

Lagman said the president’s “recovery or negotiation for the retrieval of the Marcos hoard must conform to the requirements of transparency, accountability and no conditionality.”

He also said there is no need for a new law to authorize President Rodrigo Duterte to execute a compromise settlement with the Marcos heirs because the chief executive has not just a continuing right but also the obligation to recover illegal wealth, either by judicial action or compromise settlement.

This authority if granted under Executive Order No. 1 issued by the late President Corazon Aquino, which also created the Presidential Commission on Good Government and charged it “with the task of assisting the President in the recovery of all ill-gotten wealth accumulated by former President Ferdinand Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, whether located in the Philippines or abroad.”

Lagman said the administration’s controversial involvement with the dictator’s family has progressed from last year’s “furtive and fast-tracked” of Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani even before the Supreme Court could decide the issue with finality to “exhuming the Marcos’ multi-billion dollar ill-gotten wealth from foreign and local burial grounds for a projected compromise agreement with the government on the return of the hoard even partially.”