Marcoses willing to return part of wealth to Philippines, says Duterte

Former Philippines First Lady and current congresswoman Imelda Marcos (left) with daughter, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos (right).
Former Philippines First Lady and current congresswoman Imelda Marcos (left) with daughter, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos (right).PHOTO: EPA

MANILA (THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Marcoses, who allegedly amassed up to US$10 billion (S$13.54 billion) in ill-gotten wealth, are willing to return to the Philippines part of that money.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte disclosed on Tuesday (Aug 29) that the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was open to returning part of its wealth, including gold bars, supposedly to help the current administration manage its finances.

As of 2016, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) had recovered a total of 170 billion pesos (S$4.5 billion) in ill-gotten wealth - from Swiss bank deposits, shares of stock and real estate to paintings and jewellery - from the Marcoses and their associates.

It was then President Corazon Aquino who formed the PCGG shortly after the ouster of Marcos in February 1986.

Mr Duterte, speaking at the oath-taking ceremony of newly appointed government officials, said he had been in touch with a spokesperson for the Marcos family, whom he did not identify.

"They said they'll open everything and probably return whatever has been discovered," Mr Duterte said.

He said the Marcos family was willing to return the wealth to help the country handle the large budget deficit projected for this year.

But Mr Duterte said the amount to be returned by the Marcoses would not be big.

The family, he said, was "ready to open and bring back (the wealth)… as well as a few gold bars."

'NOT A FORT KNOX'

"It's not that big. It's not a Fort Knox," he added.

Mr Duterte did not expressly refer to the wealth as ill-gotten. Neither did he say if there had been an admission from the Marcos family that it had stolen from the country's coffers.

The President said the family gave the reason that the father was "protecting the economy," which was why it seemed the wealth had been hidden.

"I will accept the explanation, whether or not it is true," he said.

"And they are ready to return. How much? They would give me an accounting," he added.

He said he was looking for somebody, who must not be identified with anybody, to handle the negotiation.

He was considering a former Chief Justice, along with a certified public accountant and a representative accepted by all parties.

There are pending forfeiture cases involving Marcos assets that government prosecutors say rightfully belong to the country.