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Marcoses still criminals even if they return wealth — rights victims

/ 06:04 PM August 30, 2017

The Marcoses’ return of their ill-gotten wealth to the government is an admission that they stole from public coffers, which can open them up to accountability.

This was the take of former Human Rights Commissioner Loretta Ann Rosales, herself a victim of abuses under the Marcos dictatorship, when sought for comment by the Inquirer.

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“This means they have an accountability. They stole [from public coffers], so they should be arrested. There should be a trial. This is what is known as accountability and responsibility as members of government,” Rosales said in a phone interview.

Mr. Duterte said on Monday that an unidentified Marcos family spokesman offered to “help” with the country’s spending deficit: “We are ready to open and bring back, they said, even a few gold bars.”

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READ: Duterte: Marcos family willing to open, return ‘wealth in question’

Asked if the Marcoses should be forgiven for the abuses and hardships under the two-decade rule of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Rosales said: “No, of course not.”

She noted the Marcoses themselves have not issued their own statement. “Maybe we should wait for the Marcoses to say something before we jump up and down in joy,” she cautioned.

In any case, Rosales maintained “they will have to be accountable for something they took from the government which Duterte claims they are now willing to give.”

“That will be an admission that the father was a plunderer,” she said.

Under the Duterte administration, Marcos was buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani in a move criticized for historical revisionism and political rehabilitation.

READ: Opposition solons doubt Marcoses’ willingness to return ill-gotten wealth

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“If some of the gold bars were returned, he would no longer be a hero. He would be a thief. That will go against his burial,” Rosales said.

Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto spokesperson Danilo dela Fuente, another victim of atrocities under the dictatorship, said the Marcoses should still be considered criminals nonetheless.

“The Marcoses should return all ill-gotten wealth, every centavo of it, but plunderers and criminals they remain,” Dela Fuente said.

“For us, martial law victims, this does not mean absolution from their crimes of plunder, human rights violations and massive corruption,” he added. “We see this as a token and deceptive gesture of a family seeking to complete their political rehabilitation.”

Meanwhile, executive director Zenaida Mique of Claimants 1081, a group of human rights violations victims, said Mr. Duterte’s Monday announcement was “unacceptable.”

“They have no moral or legal rights to choose to return ‘some’ of these ill-gotten wealth. We’re talking here of Filipino people’s money,” Mique said in a text message. “If the Marcoses are sincere in their offer, they should return ALL their ill-gotten wealth.”

Mique also suspected that “this is all part of their attempts to revise our history and to condition the mind of the people that Marcos is a hero.”

Should the Marcoses really return the questionable wealth as announced by Mr. Duterte, Rosales said the proceeds should be used not for his pet projects, but for the agrarian reform program and the reparations for the victims of abuses under Marcos rule.

However, Human Rights Victims Claims Board chairperson Lina Sarmiento said the return of Marcos wealth to the public would have “no effect in the implementation of Republic Act No. 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.”

In a text message, she explained the law already fixed the amount of P10 billion as compensation to the victims, minus administrative expenses for the board’s operations.

Sarmiento said 3,383 claimants received 50% of their estimated monetary reparation with an aggregate total of P260 million.

Some 617 of the initial 4,000 eligible claimants have not received theirs for various reasons: “oppositions, appeals, some opted to wait for the whole amount before they withdraw, others are abroad.” JE

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TAGS: Human rights, Ill-gotten wealth, Loretta Rosales, Marcos, Martial law, stolen, victims
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