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Congress nod sought in Marcos deal

/ 07:01 AM September 05, 2017

Malacañang on Monday urged Congress to authorize President Rodrigo Duterte to negotiate with the Marcoses for the return of their unexplained wealth, including a few gold bars.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Congress should set the “parameters” of the negotiations after Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos offered to return their unexplained wealth.

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“We therefore urge Congress to authorize the President to proceed with negotiations and set parameters, taking into account concerns raised by critics and the citizenry,” Abella said.

“It would be best if we all work together for final justice, closure and national reconciliation,” he added.

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Abella said Congress’ authorization was needed because the President did not want to go into negotiations with the Marcoses on his own.

“We’re simply saying that at this stage, the President said that he will listen but at the final analysis he will let—Congress has to—the whole process has to be in concert with the Congress, okay?” he said.

“We cannot say which comes first, which takes precedence. We simply are saying that he is involving the Congress at this stage,” he added.

The President on Saturday said in Davao City that Congress should pass a law for the negotiations with the Marcoses to proceed.

“The President cannot … it has to be a law. And the law must come from Congress, not from me,” Mr. Duterte said.

“Congress must authorize because that is money to be recovered by the government of the Philippines and that was the offer,” he added.

The President said Congress would also have to “provide the steps of how to recover” the money.

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If Congress gave him the power to negotiate, Mr. Duterte said he would include Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and representatives from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Bureau of Internal Revenue in the negotiations.

The President said that, in making the offer, the Marcoses were not admitting that the wealth was stolen.

“[Imee] is not ready to announce that it had been stolen. But she said whatever was under suspicion should be discussed and that I accepted,” Mr. Duterte said.

The President said the Marcos family was willing to return an unspecified amount of their wealth.

As of 2016, the Presidential Commission on Good Government had recovered a total of P170 billion in ill-gotten wealth — from Swiss bank deposits, shares of stock and real estate to paintings and jewelry — from the Marcoses and their cronies.

Meanwhile, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said the Marcoses’ proposal should be without any conditions.

Fr. Amado Picardal stressed that the offer should also serve as the Marcoses’ “expression of remorse” for the alleged abuses they committed under martial law.

“It’s a clear admission that they stashed billions which belongs to the Filipino people. They should return all that they looted without precondition,” Picardal said on Monday.

Picardal, the executive secretary of the CBCP’s Basic Ecclesial Communities, refused to speculate on the possibility of a secret deal between the Marcoses and the government. —With a report from Julie M. Aurelio

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TAGS: Ernesto Abella, Ferdinand Marcos, Imee Marcos, Marcos ill-gotten wealth, Rodrigo Duterte
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