MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday explained that Congressional approval is needed before his government could enter into a deal with the family of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos for the return of their ill-gotten wealth as this could involve a possible grant of immunity.
Duterte said legislation may be needed to grant the possible immunity of the Marcoses from prosecution should they agree to bring back the wealth the family took during Marcos' more than two-decade dictatorship, marked by alleged corruption and human rights abuses.
"Itong mga Marcos, hindi ito papayag na isauli tapos ikulong sila," Duterte told reporters in a chance interview.
"Isauli ko pero huwag mo ako kulungin."
He clarified that the Marcoses did not seek any form of immunity.
The President, nonetheless, said he is taking a "neutral stand" on the possibility of granting immunity to the Marcoses.
"It is not my take. I cannot grant it. It is Congress," said Duterte, whose father Vicente had served in the Marcos cabinet.
"Bigyan mo ng immunity, fine. Huwag mo bigyan ng immunity, fine, pero walang perang isasauli iyan."
The President earlier revealed that Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos had told him that the late dictator took public money to “protect the economy.” He said he accepted this explanation.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), formed during the presidency of the late Corazon Aquino, is tasked to go after the estimated $10 billion ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and his cronies.
It has already recovered P170 billion pesos or about $3.4 billion in ill-gotten wealth as well as jewelry, art and other assets from the Marcoses.
The Duterte administration is planning to abolish the PCGG and is eyeing the creation of a new anti-graft agency in its place.