• Marcoses mum on return of ill-gotten wealth

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    The Marcoses were mum Wednesday following the revelation of President Rodrigo Duterte that they were willing to return some assets, even bars of gold, to the government to help ease the budget deficit.

    “For sure they have heard already the pronouncements of the President, but they remained silent as of this time,” a lawyer of the Marcoses, who asked not to be identified, told The Manila Times on Wednesday in a telephone interview.

    “This was never discussed before with us,” the source added.

    Duterte on Tuesday said the family of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos had indicated willingness to return a still-unspecified amount of money and “a few gold bars.”

    Duterte claimed a family spokesman had relayed to him the intention of the Marcos family.

    The President added that he would tap three individuals, including a retired chief justice, to negotiate with the Marcoses – former first lady Imelda Marcos, an Ilocos Norte representative; former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos.

    Duterte clarified that the assets to be returned were not stolen.

    “I will accept the explanation, whether or not it is true,” Duterte said in remarks before newly appointed officials on Tuesday.

    The Marcoses are “ready to open and bring back (assets) including a few gold bars. It’s not that big, it’s not Fort Knox, it’s just a few but they said, they’ll return,” Duterte said, quoting the unnamed Marcos spokesman.

    Duterte is close to the Marcoses, and allowed the late strongman to be buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani last year amid protests.

    The young Marcos, namesake of the former president, ran but lost in the 2016 vice presidential race. An electoral protest is pending before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

    Duterte not negotiating for Marcoses

    President Duterte is not acting as a counsel or a negotiator for the family of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, the Palace said Wednesday.

    Palace Spokesperson Ernesto Abella was responding to the statement made by the group Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (Carmma), which slammed the President for being a lobbyist of the Marcoses.

    “The remarks of Carmma entirely miss the point. The President disclosed about the issue of the Marcos wealth in his speech in the spirit of transparency,” Abella said.

    “The Chief Executive has the best interests of the Filipinos in mind, which is, how our people would benefit from the recovery of the Marcos wealth,” Abella added.

    Former congressman Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna said the Duterte administration should push for justice and accountability among the Marcoses.

    “While we have long demanded the return of ill-gotten wealth, it’s not merely about money. It’s also about justice and accountability. If the Marcoses will not acknowledge the human rights violations and kleptocracy that happened during Martial Law, they are just making it appear that they are giving a donation and that we even owe it to them,” Colmenares said in a statement.

    “It is so easy for the Marcoses to say that we should move on and engage in reconciliation because it is not them who have been wronged and lost loved ones. There can be no reconciliation without justice,” Colmenares, who was tortured during martial law, added.

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