Are you serious? Alvarez asks Marcoses
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said on Tuesday he was clueless as to whether Congress even had the power to authorize President Rodrigo Duterte to negotiate with the Marcos family on the return of part of their wealth.
“I still do not know. Do we have the power to give that authority to the executive?” he told a press briefing when asked to comment on Mr. Duterte’s remark that Congress should pass a law for negotiations to begin.
Alvarez said another question should be posed to the heirs of the late Ferdinand Marcos, who reportedly made an offer to Mr. Duterte to return the “loot” they amassed during martial law to the government.
“Are you really serious or not? What exactly do you want to surrender?” he said, addressing the Marcos family.
On Saturday in Davao City, the President said Congress should pass a law for the negotiations with the Marcoses to proceed. He revealed last week that the Marcos heirs expressed openness to return part of their wealth, including “a few gold bars,” to help the government manage its budget deficit.
“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.
But Alvarez said he had not talked to the President about the Marcos deal, adding that it would not be a priority on the legislative agenda, as the chamber was busy deliberating on the P3.767-trillion budget.
Asked what role Congress would play in the return of the Marcos loot, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas told reporters: “I don’t know anything about such.”
But Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman of the opposition bloc is wondering why the President is seeking the authority of Congress to negotiate for the return of the Marcos loot when he already had the power to do so.
Mr. Duterte already possessed “continuing principal authority” under existing law to recover the Marcos family’s ill-gotten wealth with the assistance of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), he said.
The PCGG, Lagman said, was tasked with assisting the President in the recovery of all ill-gotten wealth accumulated by Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, whether located in the Philippines or abroad.
A total of P170 billion has been recovered as of 2016 by the PCGG from the Marcoses and their cronies, including Swiss bank deposits, shares of stock, real estate properties, paintings and jewelry.