Lawyer: Gov’t is biggest hurdle in recovering Marcos wealth
MANILA, Philippines – The biggest roadblock to recovering the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses is not the family itself, according to American lawyer Robert Swift, who has worked on the class suit filed by victims of martial law and other cases involving rights abuses.
“Interestingly, in trying to collect the Marcos assets, the chief opposition has not been the Marcoses. It’s the Philippine government,” Swift said on Tuesday at a forum about the legal victories against the Marcos family at the University of the Philippines – Diliman.
“The problem, which in my view is the chief obstacle to the enforcement of human rights, is the government,” he added.
Swift lamented that politics had marred the bid of the Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG), which he had worked with, to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses.
“I had hoped that in 1986, anticipating that there could be a problem, that I could work with PCGG because our common interest was recovering Marcos assets. In June of 1986, I made a call to Jovito Salonga and specifically addressed that,” Swift said. “Salonga said that there won’t be any problem. Well, things got worse.”
Salonga, a senator when Marcos declared martial law in 1972, was the first chairman of the PCGG, appointed by then-President Corazon Aquino.
Swift was referring to the reluctance of the PCGG to work with him and his Filipino counterparts, who were led by lawyer Rodrigo Domingo Jr.
Aside from the PCGG, Swift also had clashes with the Office of Solicitor General, which accused him of merely thinking about profit in pushing charges against the late dictator’s family.
Out of the latest $13.75 million grants released for members of the class suit, $4.125 million would be released as attorney’s fee to Swift — a hefty amount compared to $1,500 that each claimant would get and the $4 million allocated to the Philippine government.
However, former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chief Etta Rosales — who has worked with Swift in filing cases against the Marcoses — earlier insisted that the payment was fair after years of pushing for the rights of victims using his own law offices’ finances.
(Editor: Alexander T. Magno)
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