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House probe sought on failure of Marcoses to return artwork

/ 05:09 AM October 07, 2014
Imelda marcos paintings

This file photo taken on June 7, 2007 shows former first lady Imelda Marcos is seen in her apartment in Manila with a gallery of paintings including a Picasso, seen at upper right. Philippine authorities moved on September 30, 2014 to seize paintings by Picasso, Gauguin, Miro, Michelangelo and other masters held by Imelda Marcos after getting a court order against the former first lady. AFP/ROMEO GACAD

MANILA, Philippines–Two lawmakers will seek a congressional probe of the Marcoses for refusing to turn over dozens of valuable artwork acquired during strongman Ferdinand Marcos’ 21-year rule.

Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon said he would file a resolution seeking an investigation into the failure of the Marcos family to turn over 156 paintings to authorities despite a confiscation order issued by the Sandiganbayan last week.

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“It is our historic duty to proceed with the full sequestration of ill-gotten Marcos assets. I believe a probe is in order to determine how Congress can adequately assist the PCGG (Presidential Commission on Good Government) to truly deliver substantial blows to the remaining ill-gotten wealth,” he said.

Ridon said the House should get the testimony of PCGG chair Andres Bautista who suggested that Congress look into the Marcos family’s continued defiance to return the artwork to the government.

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He said the House would invite Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos and Ilocos Norte Rep. Imee Marcos to the hearing.

Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello has expressed support for a congressional probe, saying it “would be a good venue for other witnesses.”

Bello said, however, the Department of Justice should continue to pursue its cases against the Marcos family as it had full legal authority to recover the paintings.

“Having legal authority is not the same as possessing political will, and that seems to be what is in short supply. That is a problem,” said Bello.

But Kabataan Rep. Antonio Tinio said it would be “foolish” for Congress to investigate the case because it would only provide the Marcos allies in the House “the opportunity to delay, prevaricate and muddle the issue.”

Tinio said it was up to Malacañang’s to enforce the Sandiganbayan’s “writ of attachment” on the paintings.

“Is the PCGG saying that the whole might of the executive branch is helpless against the Marcoses? Nice try, but the burden is on them. What’s needed is more robust action by the President and not another investigation,” said Tinio.

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TAGS: Congress, House probe, Ill-gotten wealth, Marcoses, paintings, Terry Ridon
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