Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Martial law victims slam Marcos deal

Return all the ill-gotten wealth. Disclose any condition for its return. Hold the Marcoses accountable for raiding the public coffers.

Several lawmakers and victims of abuses under the Marcos regime issued these calls a day after President Rodrigo Duterte announced that the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was willing to return part of its wealth, including gold bars, to help government manage its finances.
Loretta Ann Rosales, a torture victim during the Marcos regime, said the Marcoses “will have to be accountable for something they took from the government, which Duterte claims they are now willing to give.”

“That will be an admission that the father was a plunderer,” said Rosales, a former chair of the Commission on Human Rights.
The Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (Carmma) called the Marcos family’s offer to return part of its wealth a “scam” and urged the public not to fall for it.

As skepticism greeted the Marcos offer, Malacañang said the President was looking after the Filipinos’ best interest.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Mr. Duterte wanted what was best for Filipinos.
Carmma spokesperson Bonifacio Ilagan said the offer was part of the Marcoses’ gameplan to return to power.
“Imee Marcos is going to run for senator in the next elections and Bongbong for president,” Ilagan said.
Duterte allies

He said the Marcoses knew that the biggest issue against their comeback was their ill-gotten wealth, part of which they are now offering to return “without even admitting [to wrongdoing].”
The Marcoses, including Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos and former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., are known political allies of Mr. Duterte.
In one of his previous speeches, the President had identified Imee as one of the chief financiers of his presidential campaign.
The family is believed to have amassed $10 billion over the two-decade rule of Marcos, who was ousted in February 1986.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said there was a need to get the details of the offer made by the Marcos family.
“But if it’s a settlement, the Republic of the Philippines is not cheap and whatever the entire wealth that was stolen, should be returned,” Pimentel said.
If the offer was a donation to help the government as Mr. Duterte had implied, Pimentel said this should be accepted as long as it would not affect the cases the Marcoses were facing.
‘Not that simple’
When Mr. Duterte disclosed the offer of the Marcoses to return part of their wealth, he did not refer to it as ill-gotten and neither did he say that the family had admitted that it had stolen from the country’s coffers.
The President said the family gave the reason that Mr. Marcos was “protecting the economy,” which was why it seemed the wealth had been hidden.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said facilitating the return of the Marcos wealth might not be that simple, as there were pending cases against the Marcos family.
As head of the executive department, Mr. Duterte may enter into an agreement with the Marcos heirs, Aguirre said.
“It could be done under the framework of the law. Maybe there should be a new agreement, an enabling law or an initiative law or regulations to be issued by the President himself,” he added.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the Marcos heirs should reveal “any conditionality for the voluntary partial surrender” of the family’s ill-gotten wealth.
Danilo de la Fuente, spokesperson of Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto, said the Marcoses should still be considered criminals.
“The Marcoses should return all ill-gotten wealth, every centavo of it, but plunderers and criminals they remain,” he said.
Zenaida Mique, executive director of Claimants 1081, a group of human rights violations victims, said Mr. Duterte’s Monday announcement was “unacceptable.”
“They have no moral or legal rights to choose to return ‘some’ of these ill-gotten wealth. We’re talking here of Filipino people’s money,” Mique said in a text message. —WITH REPORTS FROM DJ YAP AND LEILA B. SALAVERRIA


Solon recalls Imelda story on Marcoses’ 7,000 tons of gold

Former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, now Buhay party-list representative, said on Wednesday that Imelda Marcos, the widow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, once confided to him that her family kept 7,000 tons of gold deposited all over the world.
Atienza said Imelda, now an Ilocos Norte representative, claimed that she had offered to pay off the country’s foreign debt with the gold but she supposedly could not touch the money due to the interference of a “superpower.”
“I’m announcing it in light of these developments,” Atienza told a press briefing after he was asked to comment on President Rodrigo Duterte’s disclosure that the Marcos family had offered to return some of its wealth.

“She told me, ‘A superpower is preventing us. We can’t move any of the gold deposited in many parts of the world.’ I asked her, ‘what is your estimate?’ 7,000 tons,” Atienza quoted the former first lady as saying.
The gold hoard of the Marcoses, if true, is bigger than the 4,582 tons being kept at Fort Knox in Kentucky; the 3,374 tons in gold holdings of Germany; and the 1,842 tons of China.
The congressman said Imelda made the revelation in a private talk some time in the late 1990s or early 2000s at a wedding in which both of them stood as sponsors.

“You can ask her to confirm it,” he said, adding that the two of them were not even close friends at the time.
“I’ll liberate the country of its foreign debt,” Imelda was supposed to have said.
But Atienza added that Imelda’s daughter, Imee, now governor of Ilocos Norte, overheard the conversation and quickly issued a denial: “Do not believe a word of it,” he quoted the daughter as saying.
The Inquirer tried to reach Imelda through her office at the House of Representatives, but her staff said she was not available for interview.
Speaking at the same press briefing, Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, who confessed to being a “Marcos boy,” expressed doubt that there was that much Marcos gold left.

“Where did it come from? I don’t think we will get that much tonnage. I’m having doubt really with the accuracy of that tonnage,” he said.
During the Marcos regime, Suarez said there was a good number of gold production operations in different mining sites.
“This gold is either sold to Bangko Sentral or sold privately. From what I’ve heard, Bangko Sentral can convert gold to US dollars and there were buyers of those gold bars,” he said.
“Some of those gold bars may have been purchased by the late President’s family,” he added.
At the oath-taking ceremony in Malacañang of newly appointed officials on Tuesday, Mr. Duterte said a Marcos spokesperson had agreed “to open everything and probably return what has been discovered.”
The President said the Marcos heirs had expressed openness to returning part of their wealth, including “a few gold bars,” to help the government manage the budget deficit.
A total of P170 billion in ill-gotten wealth had been recovered as of 2016 by the Presidential Commission on Good Government from the Marcoses and their cronies, including Swiss bank deposits, shares of stock, real estate properties, paintings and jewelry.


CALLAMARD REMARK: Duterte got it wrong on French law, says embassy

Sorry, monsieur, but you got it all wrong.

The French Embassy in Manila on Wednesday contradicted President Rodrigo Duterte’s claims that laws in France presumed a person guilty until proven innocent.
“We have to point out that, as in the Philippines, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty is at the core of the French judicial system, based on the principles enshrined in the French Declaration of Human and Civic Rights of Aug. 26, 1789,” the embassy said in a statement.

“France strongly believes in the importance of the rule of law, due process and respect for human rights in all countries, including the Philippines,” it added.
Mr. Duterte’s spokesperson, Ernesto Abella, said France and the Philippines shared “the same values of respect for human rights, due process and accords primacy to the presumption of innocence.”
“The President’s statements yesterday express the sentiment that while no judicial or legal system in the world is perfect, countries are continuously working to refine their laws and improve their respective national systems in order to ensure protection of human rights while maintaining peace and order within its territory,” Abella added.
Callamard tweet
During Monday’s press conference, Mr. Duterte lashed out at the United Nations’ special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, over her comments on the killing of Kian delos Santos alleged by policemen in an antidrug operation.
On her Twitter account, Callamard condemned the killing as “murder” and called for an investigation, saying the 17-year-old student’s death should be “the last.”
Mr. Duterte, who frequently uses coarse language particularly against critics of his drug war, lashed out at her. “Daughter of a whore, tell her! Don’t she dare scare me, daughter of a whore. She’s an idiot! Where is that crazy person from?”
Upon learning that she was French, he said people in France were presumed guilty unless proven innocent.

French law
“Even in her own place, that happens. She’s an idiot,” he said. “In their place, they can detain a person almost indefinitely under the French law. And the French law says you are guilty and you have to prove your innocence. That’s how it works.”
The embassy stressed that Callamard as special rapporteur “represents the UN, and not the French government.”
On Friday, a murder complaint was filed against the policemen involved in the shooting of Delos Santos in Caloocan City.
The student was one of more than 80 drug and crime suspects killed in purported gun battles with police over three days this month in the bloodiest period of Mr. Duterte’s antidrug campaign.
The killings have sparked alarm and investigations by the Senate and others. Anger and protests have focused on the killing of Delos Santos.
Police said the student was a drug courier who opened fire with a pistol during a raid. His family, however, said he was mercilessly killed by lawmen while pleading for his life and telling them he had an exam in school the next day. —WITH REPORTS FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA, AFP AND AP


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