MANILA - The Philippine government should reject any request for immunity to convince the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. to return billions of dollars in ill-gotten wealth, a human rights lawyer said Wednesday.
President Rodrigo Duterte brought up the possibility of immunity on Tuesday, upsetting victims of human rights violations during the 20-year dictatorship.
The government, seeking to recover more than half of the estimated $10 billion stolen from public coffers, still has 248 cases against the family and their cronies.
“Walang immunity dapat,” lawyer Rod Domingo, who represented victims who won a class suit against the Marcoses in the US, told ABS-CBN News.
(There should be no immunity.)
“Parang nakakarimarim e. Eto yung mga magnanakaw, ayaw aminin na sila ay nagnakaw. Pero isasauli yung mga ninakaw nila. Eh ano matatawag mo rito?”
(It's kind of disgusting. Here are thieves who don't want to admit to theft. But they will return what they stole. What do you call that?)
The President earlier said the Marcoses could seek immunity as an assurance they would not go to jail despite returning their alleged loot.
“Eh di wala nang saulian. Let us continue the prosecution. Para pang tayo ang tinatakot, sinasabing, ‘Hindi naming ibibigay ang pera,’” said Domingo, who also critiqued Duterte for acting as the family’s “spokesman.”
(Then, don't return anything. Let us continue the prosecution. It's like they're scaring us that they won't return the money.)
“Para tayong mga aso na nag-aaway... Let us put closure to this.”
(We are fighting like dogs.)
Domingo said efforts to return the Marcos loot were part of a supposed plan to install the late dictator’s son, former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., in Malacañang.
The younger Marcos is disputing the victory of Vice President Leni Robredo in last year’s elections.
Domingo said the money to be returned could be used to finance education, health care, and other social services, endearing the Marcoses to voters.
“Magagamit mong pangbigay sa mga mahihirap na nasalanta nya,” he said. “Yung mga victims, bibigyan nya ngayon. Meron syang kapirasong tinapay, ‘O, ito, hati-hati kayo.’ Hindi pa nya ibibigay yung lahat ng nakulimbat nya.”
(It might be given to the poor whom they victimized. The victims will be handed a piece of bread to share. They will not return everything they stole.)