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PCGG to pursue plan to exhibit Imelda’s seized jewelry

/ 09:19 PM February 16, 2014

Imelda Marcos INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) has not given up on its plan to put on public display the controversial jewelry collection of former first lady and now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos.

The PCGG had initially planned to open the exhibit in the third quarter of 2013.

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In a recent interview, PCGG Commissioner Maita Chan-Gonzaga said they have been working on the logistical details, including the venue and security to pursue the plan for public display.

Only after they have finalized the details would they officially seek clearance from Malacañang to exhibit Marcos’ jewelry collection, she said.

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The jewelry collection, which includes tiaras, necklaces, brooches, earrings and belts studded with diamonds and other gems, has been stored in the vaults of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas since they were confiscated in 1986 after the people power revolt brought down the Marcos dictatorship.

They are divided into three caches according to where they were found: The Malacañang collection of around 300 pieces that was left behind after the Marcoses fled the Palace; the Hawaii collection consisting of 400 pieces, which was seized by the US Bureau of Customs upon the Marcoses’ arrival in Hawaii; and the Roumeliotes collection of 60 major pieces that Imelda’s Greek accomplice, Demetriou Roumeliotes, tried to spirit out of the country a few weeks after the Marcoses’ ouster.

The Roumeliotes collection has the most valuable pieces, according to the PCGG.

In a previous interview, Gonzaga said the planned exhibit was driven by the historical significance of the “Imeldific” jewelry pieces, rather than by tourism considerations.

Next to the 2,000 pairs of shoes she left behind in Malacañang, the jewelry collection is seen as another symbol of Marcos’ extravagance while in power.

The exhibit would be a “mechanism for remembrance, to make sure any revisionist history doesn’t take root, so the excesses of the past will not be forgotten,” Gonzaga said.

“The tourism value is secondary to us. It’s not to aggrandize the jewelry. It’s part of a larger picture. You can’t forget the abuses of the past,” she added.

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After 28 years, however, the Malacañang collection forfeiture case is still pending in  the Sandiganbayan.

The anti-graft court ruled in January the Malacañang collection should go to the government for being ill-gotten, but the Marcos family has appealed the decision.

PCGG officials have said they would mount the exhibit first before tackling the question of whether or not to auction off the jewelry.

Last November and December, the PCGG together with the Office of the President and the Bureau of Customs conducted a joint audit of the jewelry collection in preparation for the exhibit.

PCGG Chair Andres Bautista said all the pieces were accounted for, contrary to rumors that some had been spirited from the BSP vaults or replaced with fake gems.

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TAGS: Crime, exhibit, Ferdinand Marcos, Graft and Corruption, hidden wealth, Ill-gotten wealth, Imelda Marcos, Jewelry, law and justice, Marcos dictatorship, News, Plunder, Presidential Commission on Good Government, public display
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