Seryoso ba kayo? Speaker questions Marcos offer to return 'loot'

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 05 2017 04:01 PM

Specialists from Christie's examine the confiscated jewelries of former First Lady Imelda Marcos during an appraisal authorized by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas headquarters in Manila.Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

MANILA - Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday expressed doubts on the seriousness of the Marcos family's offer to return alleged ill-gotten wealth to the national government.

Alvarez said the government should look into the specifics of the proposal first before talking to the Marcos family.

"E yun namang proposed negotiation doon sa, ano ito, Marcos loot? Loot, kasi nakaw di ba? Matagal nang pinag-uusapan. Tingnan muna natin, ano ba, seryoso ba kayo o hindi? Baka mamaya hindi na naman mag-seryoso yan. Ano ba yung gusto ninyong i-surrender? Di ba? Bago tayo magsayang ng oras diyan," he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier revealed that the Marcoses were willing to return gold bars and a portion of their supposed hidden wealth to the national coffers.

Duterte said a Marcos family's emissary revealed the gold bars and wealth were only kept as former dictator Ferdinand Marcos was trying to secure the Philippine economy.

"Ang sabi nila the father was only protecting the economy... but ganito ang lumabas parang naitago," the President said.

On Monday, Malacañang said Congress must authorize the President to enter into negotiations with the Marcos family for the return of their wealth, which has been deemed unlawful by former Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chief Ruben Carranza.

Carranza explained that returning the Marcoses' hidden wealth cannot be a subject of a compromise due to a 2003 Supreme Court ruling that declared assets of the Marcoses beyond $304,000 as ill-gotten.

"The sum of $304,372.43 should be held as the only known lawful income of respondents since they did not file any Statement of Assets and Liabilities (SAL), as required by law, from which their net worth could be determined," the High Court said in a July 2003 decision

Alvarez said the House of Representatives has yet to look into the legalities of whether they have the power to authorize the President to negotiate with the Marcoses.

"Alam mo 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. Ngayon lang kasi nangyari yan so mabuti na yung tignan nating yung legalities," he said.

Opposition lawmaker, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman meanwhile said the President does not need any new law or authority from Congress to negotiate for the return of the Marcos wealth.

"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 (PCGG)," Lagman said.

"Why involve the Congress in a negotiation where the Marcos heirs are at best ambivalent and which may not even prosper beyond propaganda?" he added.

Lagman said the PCGG, which was created by the late President Corazon Aquino, is "charged with the task of assisting the President" in "the recovery of all ill-gotten wealth accumulated by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, whether located in the Philippines or abroad."

"The President even 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. However, the unwritten rule in the projected negotiation must conform to transparency, accountability and no conditionality," he said.

Formed nearly 30 years ago to recover an estimated $10 billion looted by the late dictator Marcos, the PCGG has already recovered $3.4 billion in ill-gotten wealth as well as jewelry, art, and other assets from the Marcoses.

The government is still pursuing 248 cases against the Marcoses and their alleged cronies in various courts, with some appeals pending before the Supreme Court.