House to study move authorizing Duterte on retrieving Marcos wealth
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday said the House of Representatives would study the request of President Rodrigo Duterte that Congress give him the authority to negotiate the return of the hidden wealth, including the gold bars, of the Marcos family.
In a press briefing, Alvarez said Congress should first look into the sincerity of the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to return their alleged ill-gotten wealth, which Alvarez described as the family’s “loot.”
“Yun namang proposed negotiation doon sa ano ito—Marcos loot? Loot, kasi nakaw di ba? Matagal nang pinag-uusapan. Tignan muna natin ano ba, seryoso ba kayo o hindi?” Alvarez said.
(About the proposed negotiation with the Marcos loot? Loot, because they’re ill-gotten, right? It has been being discussed for so long now. Let’s look at it first, are they serious or not?)
“Baka mamaya hindi na naman mag-seryoso yan. Ano ba yung gusto ninyong i-surrender, di ba, bago tayo magsayang ng oras diyan,” he added.
(For all we know, maybe, they are not that serious. What are you willing to surrender, am I right? [We need to know] before we waste our time there.)
Alvarez said it remains a “good question” whether or not Congress has the power to authorize the President to negotiate with the family for the return of the alleged Marcos loot, which accumulated during the two-decade regime of the dictator.
“That’s a good question. Kaya nga hindi ko pa alam kung anong gagawin namin. Pag-uusapan pa namin yan dito, yung proposal na ganyan, whether meron ba kaming power para bigyang authority yung presidente to negotiate,” Alvarez said.
(That’s why we still don’t know what will be our participation. We will still talk about it and [discuss] that kind of proposal, whether we have the power to authorize the president to negotiate.)
“Ngayon lang kasi nangyari yan so mabuti na yung tignan nating yung legalities,” he added.
(This is the first time that this has happened that is why we still need to check the legalities.)
In a separate press briefing, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Duterte does not need Congress’ authority for a new law, because the existing Executive Order 1, which created the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) during the administration of the late President Cory Aquino, already gave power to the President to call for investigations in connection with the Marcos ill-gotten wealth.
“President Rodrigo Duterte does not need any new law or authority from the Congress to negotiate for the return of any or all the hidden wealth of the Marcoses. The President of the Republic has the continuing principal authority under existing law to recover the Marcos ill-gotten hoard with the assistance of the Presidential Commission on Good Government,” Lagman said.
Lagman said the President “on his own accord can negotiate the surrender of the ill-gotten hoard in the same manner that he can negotiate for the surrender of a high profile suspected criminal without any act of the Congress.”
He urged the President to proceed with the negotiation with “transparency, accountability and no conditionality.”
But Lagman, whose brother Hermon was among the thousands of victims of enforced disappearances during the brutal dictatorship, cast doubt on the talks for negotiations with a family known for propaganda and shifting positions on returning to the government the family loot.
“Why involve the Congress in a negotiation where the Marcos heirs are at best ambivalent and which may not even prosper beyond propaganda?” Lagman said.
“I don’t think Congress should do that, granting him the authority to exchange the criminal responsibility of the Marcoses for a few pieces of gold bars,” he added. JPV
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