Sue Marcoses for keeping 156 paintings, lawmakers urge
MANILA, Philippines–Militant lawmakers in interviews with the Inquirer Sunday called on the Aquino administration to turn the screws on the Marcoses for refusing to turn over 156 artworks, including paintings of Van Gogh, Monet and Michelangelo that were allegedly part of their ill-gotten wealth.
“I think we should end this kid gloves’ treatment of the Marcoses. If the government wants to confiscate those paintings, it can do it and use the law to do it,” said Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) announced on Friday that in a series of raids, agents of the National Bureau of Investigation had seized 15 paintings from the Marcos residences.
Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon told the Inquirer that the PCGG should be bold enough to file contempt charges against Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos.
“The Marcoses should have the good sense to just surrender the paintings to the government,” Ridon said.
Skirting a lawful order does not bode well for the presidential ambitions of the family,” he said, referring to Senator Marcos’ avowed interest in running for President or Vice President in the 2016 elections.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said: “It has been decades since the former dictator had been ousted from power but we barely skimmed the surface of his ill-gotten wealth and his family is again creeping into power. The government should go all out in retrieving the Marcos loot.”
PCGG Chair Andres Bautista on Sunday said it was only now that the government was acting on the Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in favor of the government’s forfeiture of the Marcos family’s estimated ill-gotten wealth of $10 billion, including $658 million in Swiss bank deposits, priceless artworks and prime properties abroad.
He said the decision was penned by then Justice Renato Corona who computed the Marcos family’s wealth at only $304,000 with anything above that considered disproportionate to the late Ferdinand Marcos’ salary as President from 1965 to 1986.
The raids were carried out last week after the Sandiganbayan ruled that eight paintings owned by Imelda were purchased using money stolen from the government.
“At least now we are acting on it and we want to convey a strong message that we have not forgotten about the Marcoses,” Bautista said.
He said the Marcoses were obviously tipped off by the Sandiganbayan’s issuance of a “writ of attachment” on 156 paintings believed to be held by the Marcoses in their family home in San Juan City, Imelda’s condominium at Fort Bonifacio Global City, Imelda’s office at the Batasan Pambansa complex in Quezon City and the ancestral house in Ilocos Norte.
Bautista said last week’s series of raids yielded only 15 paintings of which four were reproductions with the rest done by European painters and not by the old masters.
“We still think it will generate millions in value but not in the level of the old masters we are still hunting for,” Bautista said.
He noted that the frames found in the Marcos homes contained different paintings while some walls had only hooks where he believed the old masters were displayed.
“We should act quickly and ask for the cooperation of the public to find these paintings before they disappear or are spirited [away],” he said.
Bautista suggested that the Senate or the House of Representatives conduct a public hearing on the 156 paintings where the PCGG would present evidence that the Marcoses possessed these valuable artworks.
“We want to increase public awareness on these paintings, that these are all the property of the country, and we believe that a congressional hearing will help in achieving these goals,” he said.
The paintings included Pablo Picasso’s “Femme Couchee VI (Reclining Woman VI)”; Michelangelo’s “Madonna and Child”; a still life by Paul Gauguin; Marquesa de Santa Cruz; Pierre Bonnard’s “La Baignade Au Grand Temps”; Bernard Buffet’s “Vase of Red Chrysanthemums”; Joan Miro’s “L’Aube”; and one of Camille Pissarro’s “Jardin de Kew” series.
Bautista said the 156 artworks the PCGG was looking for also included masterpieces by Old Masters Van Gogh, Monet and Michelangelo.
Bautista said earlier this year that Philippine authorities had recovered more than $4 billion of an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion amassed illegally by the Marcoses. That included $712 million from Marcos’ secret Swiss bank accounts, he said.
Originally posted: 9:43 pm | Sunday, October 5th, 2014