MANILA - Filipinos in need of urgent assistance will benefit from the just approved public auction of former first lady Imelda Marcos' P704.8-million seized jewelry, Malacañang said Friday.
The Palace issued the statement following President Rodrigo Duterte's greenlight of the auction of jewelry seized from the former first lady when the regime of her late husband, dictator Ferdinand Marcos, collapsed in 1986.
"The Chief Executive directs that the proceeds must reach our fellow countrymen who are in urgent need of governmental aid with dispatch," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
Panelo, meanwhile, dismissed concerns that the support of Marcos' daughter, incoming Senator Imee Marcos, to Duterte will affect his decision on the matter.
Duterte is known to be close to the Marcos family, as his late father Vicente served in the late strongman's pre-martial law cabinet. In November 2016, Duterte allowed Ferdinand Marcos' burial at the hallowed Libingan ng mga Bayani despite protests.
"As we have repeatedly assured the nation, the President is no respecter of friendship, political alliance and filial relationship," Panelo said.
"The President decides on any national matter on the basis of the constitutional command to him to serve and protect the people."
The 3 jewelry collections of the former first lady set to be auctioned were valued at P1 billion at a re-appraisal by auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's in February 2017.
The late dictator's family was known for living a lavish life during his strongman rule, with billions in ill-gotten wealth yet to be recovered 33 years since the end of his regime.
In November last year, the former first lady was convicted of graft for funneling public funds to overseas bank accounts during her husband's regime. She is out on a P150,000 bail while appealing the ruling.