SOFT-SPOKEN Irene Marcos Araneta, the youngest daughter of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and former first lady Imelda Marcos, on Wednesday opposed the move of the government to take hold of a Marcos foundation, which has some $35 million worth of cash and blue chips shares in an American brokerage firm.
In a four-page manifestation Araneta, through the lawyer Robert Sison, reminded the Sandiganbayan First Division that the assets sought to be recovered by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), by way of a summary judgment, is now under the custody of the US District Court of Hawaii.
Araneta’s move was an imitation of an earlier action by Mrs. Marcos, who insisted to have a full-blown trial on the assets of Arelma Inc.
“There is no gainsaying that the funds subject of petitioner’s [PCGG] Motion for Partial Summary Judgment are those identified under the name of Arelma Inc. The same funds were originally deposited under the account of the New York-based brokerage firm Merrill Lynch. Recently and to [PCGG’s] full knowledge, the said US District Court of Hawaii ordered Merrill Lynch to surrender the funds,” Araneta said.
She accused the PCGG of doing a “forum-shopping,” a legal violation committed by a party in case when it also seeks the same relief from another court, noting that the PCGG has appealed the ruling of the US District Court to a US appeals court.
While Mrs. Marcos and her daughter claimed that the assets of Arelma were lawfully acquired, her son, Gov. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos 2nd of Ilocos Norte, had argued that the foundation could not be deemed as part of their family’s so-called ill-gotten wealth, since they did not own it.
The PCGG has used the same tactic it employed in securing victory on the ill-gotten-wealth suit of the $684-million Marcos funds, held by five Marcos Swiss foundations, the substantial shares of the food and beverage giant San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) by filing a motion for partial summary judgment on the Arelma assets.
The motion added that when the case was filed in 1991, Arelma was worth some $3.369 million or grossly disproportionate to the lawful income of the late strongman and Mrs. Marcos, which was pegged by the Supreme Court at $304,372.43.
The government’s motion came a day after the PCGG announced that it would contest the ruling of US District Court Judge Manuel Real, who awarded the Arelma funds to the 9,539 human-rights victims during martial law.
In July last year, the Supreme Court declared that the $684 million be forfeited in favor of the government because it was ill gotten by the Marcos family.
Arelma, which is presently valued at $35 million worth of cash and blue chips shares or securities stashed away in an entity known as Merrill Lynch Asset Management Inc. in New York, USA, was organized by the Marcos couple on September 21, 1972, the same date that Marcos declared martial law.