THE Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) on Tuesday said it will file a civil action case against the former aide of Imelda Marcos, Vilma Bautista after a jury in New York State Supreme Court found her guilty for illegally conspiring to possess and sell valuable work of arts acquired by the former first lady during her husband’s presidency.
PCGG chairman Andres Bautista said the Commission will file a civil action case against Ms. Bautista and her two nephews for the recovery of Claude Monet’s lily painting and other artworks which are owned by the government.
Aside from filing a civil suit, Bautista also noted the Commission is also keen to recover bank deposits worth $15 million that allegedly came from the proceeds when Ms. Bautista and her two nephews sold the paintings in 2010, and apartment in the United States worth $3.9 million and life insurance amounting to $1 million to $2 million.
Ms. Bautista was the New York-based social secretary and confidante of former first lady during the Marcos’ years of conjugal property. Her two nephews Pongsak Navalaksana and Caheyot Navalaksana, who are now in Thailand, also face the same charges.
“After that, we will file a civil action case to recover the three unsold paintings and the one sold to British businessman Allan Howard,” Bautista told reporters in a press briefing.
A jury in New York State Supreme Court on Monday found Bautista guilty for the criminal tax fraud in the first degree, conspiracy in the fourth degree, and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.
As a result, the PCGG chair lauded the New York State Supreme Court for their speedy resolution of the case.
“The Commission is gratified that the people of New York has seen justice done today. The Commission provided key testimonial and documentary evidence for the trial, knowing how important this was to the Filipino people. We will now be working to recover the proceeds and assets which were confiscated from Ms. Bautista and which we assert to be owned by the Republic,” Bautista said.
“After 27 years that the Marcoses have fled, crime does not pay. Justice may be slow but it will surely catch up with them. It took them [New York District Attorney’s Office] less than a year to finish the trial. This is the kind of justice system we should emulate,” the PCGG chief added.
In October last year, Bautista and her two nephews were charged of selling artworks that the former first lady acquired during her husband’s presidency. These artworks, said to be worth millions of pesos, include Claude Monet’s “Le Bassin aux Nymphease” and “L’Eglise et La Seine a Vetheuil.” NEIL A. ALCOBER