‘Crazy idea’: Minority solons reject prospect of immunity for Marcos wealth
Opposition lawmakers on Wednesday thumbed down President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal for the Marcoses to return the alleged ill-gotten wealth in exchange for immunity.
In a speech last night, Duterte said if he were a Marcos, he would return the family’s loot in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
“If I were the Marcoses, kung isauli ko naman ‘yan sabihin ko sa kanila, ‘Maghingi kayo ng immunity (if I will return that, I will ask for immunity).’ Otherwise, keep the goddamned money. Isauli mo, na makulong ka (You will return it and yet still get jailed),” the president said, clarifying however that it is not up to him but for Congress to grant the dictator’s family immunity.
Duterte has said Congress should give him authority to negotiate for the Marcos wealth and gold.
This did not sit well with members of the independent minority bloc in the House of Representatives.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, whose brother Hermon was among the thousands of enforced disappearances during the brutal two-decade dictatorship, said the secret is out that the President’s “hidden agenda” was for Congress to grant the Marcoses immunity from suit.
“The cat is out of the bag: President Duterte wants the Congress to grant the Marcoses immunity from criminal prosecution in exchange for the return of part of the Marcos loot,” Lagman said.
Lagman lamented this despite the existing Executive Order 1, which created the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to assist the President to recover the Marcos loot.
“This is the hitherto hidden agenda why the President has been urging the Congress to authorize him to negotiate for the recovery of the Marcos hidden wealth despite his continuing authority under President Corazon Aquino’s Executive Order No. 1 which created the Presidential Commission on Good Government to assist the President of the Republic in retrieving the Marcos hoard,” Lagman said.
Lagnan said according to Philippine jurisprudence, “criminal liability is not subject to compromise,” citing the Supreme Court decision Chavez vs. PCGG which voided a compromise agreement for Marcos immunity from suit.
“A culprit who returns what he has stolen is not liberated from criminal prosecution. It is a mockery of justice and an insult to the aggrieved sovereign people to exempt the Marcoses from criminal culpability in exchange for a few pieces of stolen gold bars or even for their entire ill-gotten hoard,” Lagman said.
“A criminal must pay for his crime despite his having belatedly returned the object of his transgression,” he added.
For his part, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat put it as a “crazy idea.”
“It’s a crazy idea that is not in any of Philippine legal principles. For example, state witness immunity is usually reserved for not the most guilty,” Baguilat said.
Baguilat said the Marcoses are themselves “obstructors of justice” after having practically admitted that they have ill-gotten wealth.
“If the President’s idea pushes through, let’s abandon all concepts of law and justice. I can steal anything from anyone, make money out of it for awhile, then offer to return and get amnesty for it. Heck, i may even be buried as a hero,” Baguilat said, referring to the hero’s burial allowed for by President Duterte for the dictator Marcos.
Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said the explanation of the Marcoses that the wealth was not ill-gotten because it was held in trust to boost the country’s economy “is a gross distortion of law and history.”
“The premise laid by President Duterte that he ‘accepts’ the explanation by the Marcoses that the wealth was not ill-gotten as they just held it in trust for us is a gross distortion of law and history,” Villarin said.
Villarin said the passage of a law to give the Marcoses immunity sends a signal that “committing a crime will pay off in the end as justice is negotiable by the powers that be.”
“The irony is that not a single individual from the Marcoses and their cronies have been put to jail and finally through legislative fiat theirs sins are extinguished and family names polished without a blemish,” Villarin said.
Since being cleared of cases of racketeering abroad, the former First Lady now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos faces graft charges and a civil forfeiture proceeding before the Sandiganbayan.
Imelda, who was known for her lavish lifestyle as First Lady, faces 10 criminal charges of graft before the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division for allegedly having pecuniary interests in various foundations set up by her and her husband allegedly to accumulate ill-gotten wealth.
Imelda faced graft charges since 1991 for alleged offenses when she was a member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa and as Minister for Human Settlements.
She also faces a civil forfeiture case involving her prized artworks by Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Rembrandt and Michelangelo allegedly bought through ill-gotten wealth. IDL
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