WE HAVE PROOF: Defensor refutes Duterte on Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth

APPARENTLY in refutation of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that accusations of ill-gotten wealth against the Marcoses remain unproven, Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. said that he was able to recover hundreds of millions of dollars from offshore bank accounts of the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

In an interview played over Bombohanay sa Udto anchored by broadcast journalist Israel Vincent “Don” Dolido of Bombo Radyo-Iloilo on Feb 28, 2019, Defensor said he was able to trace and even seize in the name of the Republic of the Philippines US$500 million from the Marcoses’ bank accounts in Switzerland.

The late President Corazon C. Aquino appointed Defensor as commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government in 1989.

“I was commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government. I brought back US$500 million, which I recovered from Swiss banks. Those deposits were in the name of the Marcos family. I don’t know what they mean that there is no proof (of Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth). That’s just one example,” he said.

Defensor made the reaction after Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, who admired and even allowed the burial of Marcos Sr. at the Libingan ng mga Bayani despite alleged human rights violations and massive looting of the national treasury, raised doubts on allegations that the Marcoses have amassed ill-gotten wealth.

Duterte said accusations against the Marcoses remained unproven amid numerous court decisions forfeiting the family’s properties and monies in favor of the Philippine government.

“Until now you have not proven anything except to sequester and sell – hindi mo nga sigurado kung talagang kay Marcos ba ‘yan? Hindi (You are not even sure whether they belong to Marcos),” Duterte said during a convention of mayors in Manila on Feb 26, 2019.

According to a report by the Philippine Star website (www.philstar.com), the PCGG has recovered more than P171 billion of the supposed Marcos ill-gotten wealth as of 2017, a mere fraction of the P530 billion that the former first family allegedly stole from state coffers.

More than 200 cases related to the Marcos wealth remain pending in courts.

While Marcos loyalists claimed that none of the corruption allegations against the former president has been proven, there have been court decisions that forfeited some of the former first family’s wealth in favor of the government, the philstar.com report added.

In 2003, the Supreme Court awarded to the government at least $658 million in Swiss bank deposits that Marcos and his wife Imelda supposedly stashed and hid “under layers and layers of foundations and corporate entities.”

According to the ruling, the Marcoses had “failed to justify the lawful nature of their acquisition of the said assets” so the Swiss deposits “should be considered ill-gotten wealth and forfeited in favor of the state.”

In 2014, the high court upheld the forfeiture in favor of the government the Arelma funds that were deposited in the United States. The ruling affirmed an earlier court decision declaring all assets under the Arelma Foundation among the ill-gotten wealth of Marcos.

Two years ago, Duterte revealed that the Marcoses have expressed readiness to return wealth accumulated during the 20-year reign of the late strongman.

He said a spokesman for the Marcoses told him that the late president had kept the wealth “to protect the economy.”

Duterte has said the negotiation for the return of the Marcos wealth would require the approval of Congress. (With a report from https://www.philstar.com)