Tuesday, September 18, 2018
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Martial law victims slam Marcos deal

Return all the ill-gotten wealth. Disclose any condition for its return. Hold the Marcoses accountable for raiding the public coffers.

Several lawmakers and victims of abuses under the Marcos regime issued these calls a day after President Rodrigo Duterte announced that the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was willing to return part of its wealth, including gold bars, to help government manage its finances.

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Loretta Ann Rosales, a torture victim during the Marcos regime, said the Marcoses “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,” said Rosales, a former chair of the Commission on Human Rights.

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‘Scam’

The Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (Carmma) called the Marcos family’s offer to return part of its wealth a “scam” and urged the public not to fall for it.

As skepticism greeted the Marcos offer, Malacañang said the President was looking after the Filipinos’ best interest.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Mr. Duterte wanted what was best for Filipinos.

Carmma spokesperson Bonifacio Ilagan said the offer was part of the Marcoses’ gameplan to return to power.

“Imee Marcos is going to run for senator in the next elections and Bongbong for president,” Ilagan said.

Duterte allies

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He said the Marcoses knew that the biggest issue against their comeback was their ill-gotten wealth, part of which they are now offering to return “without even admitting [to wrongdoing].”

The Marcoses, including Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos and former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., are known political allies of Mr. Duterte.

In one of his previous speeches, the President had identified Imee as one of the chief financiers of his presidential campaign.

The family is believed to have amassed $10 billion over the two-decade rule of Marcos, who was ousted in February 1986.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said there was a need to get the details of the offer made by the Marcos family.

“But if it’s a settlement, the Republic of the Philippines is not cheap and whatever the entire wealth that was stolen, should be returned,” Pimentel said.

If the offer was a donation to help the government as Mr. Duterte had implied, Pimentel said this should be accepted as long as it would not affect the cases the Marcoses were facing.

‘Not that simple’

When  Mr. Duterte disclosed the offer of the Marcoses to return part of their wealth, he did not refer to it as ill-gotten and neither did he say that the family had admitted that it had stolen from the country’s coffers.

The President said the family gave the reason that Mr. Marcos was “protecting the economy,” which was why it seemed the wealth had been hidden.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said  facilitating the return of the Marcos wealth might not be that simple, as there were pending cases against the Marcos family.

As head of the executive department, Mr. Duterte may enter into an agreement with the Marcos heirs, Aguirre said.

“It could be done under the framework of the law. Maybe there should be a new agreement, an enabling law or an initiative law or regulations to be issued by the President himself,” he added.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the Marcos heirs should reveal “any conditionality for the voluntary partial surrender” of the family’s ill-gotten wealth.

Danilo de la Fuente, spokesperson of Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto, said the Marcoses should still be considered criminals.

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

Zenaida Mique, executive director 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. —WITH REPORTS FROM DJ YAP AND LEILA B. SALAVERRIA

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TAGS: Aquilino Pimentel III, Bonifacio Ilagan, Carmma, Ferdinand Marcos, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Imee Marcos, Loretta Ann Rosales, Marcos Family, Marcos ill-gotten wealth, Martial Law Victims, Rodrigo Duterte
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