MANILA – The Marcos family has offered to return “part” of their estimated $10 billion in ill-gotten wealth.
So said President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacanang on Tuesday, Aug. 29.
According to the chief executive, a spokesman for the family of the late dictator had told him that they were willing to return a portion of their unexplained wealth, including a few gold bars.
Mr. Duterte said the gold bars would not be as massive as the US deposits in Fort Knox.
In a statement to media on Wednesday, Aug.30, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said that a confirmatory statement must come from the Marcos family. "There is need for a categorical statement from the Marcos heirs confirming President Duterte's report that the Marcoses are willing to surrender a part of the Marcos' ill-gotten hoard,” said Lagman.
Lagman said the statement must include specifications as to the denominations of the amounts and identification of items to be returned.
Mr. Duterte said he wants a retired chief justice and two other government representatives to handle the negotiations with the Marcos family.
The Marcoses had stated that the gold in their possession was only for safekeeping for and in behalf of the Philippine government. In the event that then President Ferdinand Marcos was removed from office, he had ordered the removal of the country’s gold reserves so that it would not fall into the wrong hands.
“I will accept the explanation, whether or not it was true,” Mr. Duterte said.
According to the president, the spokesman for the Marcos family said the return of the unexplained wealth was to help the administration handle its expected deficit spending for the next few years.
Maybe the amount to be surrendered would help, according to the unnamed spokesman.
“I’m happy na we come with a clean... Make something that is really worthwhile for the Filipinos,” the president said.
During his two-decade rule that started in 1965, former President Marcos illegally amassed an estimated $10 billion taken from government coffers. He stashed them away in secret local and offshore accounts, or hid them through dummy foundations as well as cronies.
Following the strongman's ouster in 1986, the government - through the Presidential Commission on Good Government created the same year - went to great lengths to recover these stolen wealth, even engaging in arduous and court battles here and abroad that dragged on for years.
Three decades later, the PCGG got back a considerable chunk of the illegally acquired assets and properties, and even managed to earn revenue for the government.
The Marcos family spokesman did not state what part of the ill-gotten wealth they were willing to return to the government. – With reports from GMA