Imee Marcos: No negotiations yet on return of family wealth

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 31) — Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos said Thursday there are no negotiations yet on the possible return of part of her family's wealth to the government.

"Wala pa [None yet]," Marcos said in an ambush interview at the House of Representatives, reacting to President Rodrigo Duterte's Tuesday announcement that the family, through a spokesperson, offered to turn over part of their wealth. "Pag-usapan na lang ng ating mga abogado [Our lawyers will talk about it]."

Read: Duterte: Marcoses offer to turn over part of their wealth

She also said that family members are talking about this case.

Asked by reporters if the family has the intention to return part of their wealth, Gov. Marcos said, "Pag-usapan na lang ng ating mga abogado." [Our lawyers will talk about it].

Duterte said the family would "open everything" and "properly return" wealth that is found.

However, the President clarified that the family will turn over only a small amount.

"Sabi niya, baka makatulong, pero hindi ito malaki. 'But we are ready to open and bring back', sabi niya, 'pati 'yung a few gold bars.' Hindi ganoon kalaki, it's not the Fort Knox, it's just a few, but sabi nila isauli nila," he said.

[Translation: It might help, but it's not much.  But we are ready to open and bring back, he said, even a few gold bars. It's not that large, it's not Fort Knox, it's just a few, but they said they would return it.]

Duterte told CNN Philippines on December 2016 that he owes a debt of gratitude to Gov. Marcos, the daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Read: Duterte admits 'utang na loob' to Gov. Imee Marcos, 3 others

Former President Marcos died in exile in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1989. He was in power from 1965 to 1986, when he was ousted by a popular revolt amid allegations of corruption and human rights violations.

Duterte likewise fulfilled a campaign promise to bury Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in November 2016.

Read: Marcos buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani

Billions plundered

According to the World Bank-UN Office on Drugs and Crime's Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, former President Ferdinand Marcos started amassing ill-gotten wealth from the government on his first year as President in 1965.

The study revealed Marcos has siphoned an estimated $5-billion to $10-billion in his 21-year regime.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Commission on Good Government — which was set up during the presidency of Corazon Aquino to recover the Marcos' ill-gotten wealth — has recovered over ₱170 billion (US$3 billion) from its inception in 1986 to December 2015.

As of December 2016, the Commission has filed 248 cases against the Marcoses and their cronies or oligarchs who had close ties with the regime.

Marcos said she believes the cases filed against her family will be settled within the Duterte administration.

"Tiwala kami sa Presidente na siya ang makakapagtapos ng deka-dekadang kaso," she said. "At yung pamilya nag-uusap pa, subalit nasa kamay ng mga abogado."

[Translation: We believe that the President will end the decades of cases filed against us. The family is still talking about returning the wealth, but the issue is in the hands of our lawyers.]

In addition, victims of human rights violations during the martial law era started receiving compensation in May 2017.

Read: Martial law victims receive first half of monetary compensation

Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 grants monetary and nonmonetary reparation to human rights victims.

The government has allotted ₱10 billion for the reparation of the victims, which came from the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family transferred to the Philippine government by the Swiss Federal Court in December 1997.