MANILA- Lawmakers on Wednesday frowned on the idea of providing immunity to the family of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in exchange for the return of their ill-gotten wealth.
President Rodrigo Duterte brought up the idea on Tuesday as he explained the need for Congressional approval to negotiate with the Marcos family who expressed willingness to return gold bars and a portion of their supposed hidden wealth back to the national coffers.
He said legislation may be needed to grant the possible immunity of the Marcoses from prosecution should they agree to bring back a portion of their wealth.
The President however clarified that the Marcoses did not seek any form of immunity and that he was taking a "neutral stand" on the issue.
Opposition lawmaker, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat called the idea "crazy," saying the issue was beyond money and deals with justice for the crimes committed during the Marcos martial law.
"It's a crazy idea that is not in any of Philippine legal principles... 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." he said.
"This is more than just the money. It's about justice and accountability for the crimes against the people during martial law," he added.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman meanwhile said providing immunity to the Marcos family simply can't be done as returning their wealth does not equate to exemption from criminal liability.
"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," he said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate alleged that the real intention of the Marcos family in returning their wealth was to revise history.
"Escaping liability and accountability, as well as a barefaced revision of history are the real plans and intentions of the Marcoses in their supposed offer of returning the dictator's plundered wealth," he said.
"We will oppose this move every step of the way…justice must be served and the Marcoses should be punished for what they did to our country and people during martial law," he added.
The government, through the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) was able to recover P170.7 billion or $3.7 billion of the alleged billions in ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family.
The Duterte administration has expressed plans to abolish the PCGG and is eyeing the creation of a new anti-graft agency in its place.
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.