MANILA - Former first lady now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos once wanted to return part of her family's 7,000-ton gold cache worth roughly P15 trillion, Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said Wednesday.
Atienza said Marcos told him about the gold cache in an event they both attended when he was still mayor of Manila.
"Naikuwento iyan sa akin ni Mrs. Marcos a long time ago, noong ako ay mayor pa. Sabi niya, 'Alam mo kung papayagan lang ng gobyerno at tutulungan kaming maipasok lahat iyung aming mga ginto na nakalagak sa labas ng bansa, sa iba't ibang lugar, maibibigay ko ang malaking-malaking bahagi niyan," Atienza told DZMM.
"Makakatulong ako, sabi niya, na baka iyung ating utang panlabas, mabayaran natin o kaya maitulong natin sa mahihirap."
(Mrs. Marcos told me that a long time ago, when I was still mayor. She said, 'If only the government will allow and help us return our gold stored in different places abroad, I will turn over a huge part of it. That, she said, will help us pay our foreign debt or aid the poor.)
According to Bloomberg, each ounce of gold is worth $1,312.40, making every kilo worth $46,293. This makes 7,000 tons of gold, equivalent to 6.3 million kilos, worth about $293 billion or P15 trillion.
Atienza said he took no action after his conversation with Marcos as he was "not in the position" to do so.
Atienza revealed this information just days after President Rodrigo Duterte said the Marcos family was ready to "open everything and hopefully return" some of their wealth, including several gold bars.
Duterte said the Marcos family's emissary confirmed 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.
"I will accept the explanation whether or not it is true kasi wala na e. They are ready to return," he added.
In the interview, Atienza said the gold can fund numerous projects. He said the public should be practical and accept the funds instead of railing against the alleged atrocities of the Marcos regime.
"Thirty one years, in fact, wala man lang tayong naidemandang Marcos, wala tayong naibalanggo, lahat sila ay nakapuwesto na sa pulitika. Nag-o-offer ng ganyan, ipipilit pa natin ang gusto nating rebolusyon, baka hindi na practical iyan," he said.
"Panahon na para isara natin ang chapter ng mga Marcos at buksan natin ang isang bagong yugto ng maunlad na Pilipinas. That will only happen if we open up ourselves to reality. Wala tayong napatunayan at this point. Somebody is offering restitution."
ABS-CBN News has reached out to the Marcoses for comment, but they have yet to respond as of this posting.
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.