“CERTAIN parties” want to return of the ill-gotten wealth of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and his family to the Philippine government, a Palace official said Friday.
Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella issued the statement three days after President Rodrigo Duterte claimed he was in touch with the Marcos family’s lawyer, and that the family was willing to return their ill-gotten wealth, including gold bars.
“We understand that certain parties have indicated to the President that there may be an opportunity for the assets of the Marcos family to be turned over to the Republic,” said Abella, who did not specify the parties.
The late president daughter, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, told reporters on Thursday the family was confident President Duterte would end decades of cases involving the ill-gotten wealth.
Governor Marcos, however, clarified that there were no talks yet on returning the assets. The Presidential Commission on Good Government, mandated to go after the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses, has recovered $4 billion of the estimated $10 billion ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses as of 2016.
The $10 billion does not cover at least 100 pending cases in the Sandiganbayan and Supreme Court wherein the Marcoses are contesting the declaration of their wealth as ill-gotten.
‘Return of assets will comply with law’
As far as the Palace is concerned, the return of the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth will proceed.
“The President is studying how best to proceed in a manner that will advance the nation’s interest and comply with the law. As this matter becomes clearer, we will advise what further action will be taken to finally obtain justice,” Abella added.
President Duterte’s ally, Rep. Rav Rocamora of Siquijor, said the return of the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth would be tantamount of admitting plunder.
“The Marcoses must return any and all stolen property still in their possession. Second, a person who returns property that does not belong to him and gives it back to its rightful owner is assumed to have taken it. So this act must be interpreted as their acceptance of guilt in stealing from government,” Rocamora, who belongs to PDP-Laban party of the President, said in a statement.
“Their act of returning stolen property should be accompanied with the family issuing a formal public apology for their plunder. A formal apology will mean that they are taking a small step for our country to heal the pain of martial law, but it does not end there,” Rocamora added.
Rocamora, however, warned the Marcos family that the return of stolen property and a formal apology would not be construed as a kind of atonement or reparation for their plunder, or an end to the cases against their family.
“They should still be answerable for their crimes relating to robbing our country’s coffers. Moreover, this does not affect their accountability in other acts such as the killing, imprisonment, and torture of thousands by the dictatorship. Those are separate crimes that they should be accountable for,” Rocamora stressed.
Based on government records, the martial law regime from 1972 to 1986 left thousands of victims of torture, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.