Palace on Marcos wealth: Duterte studying best way to 'finally obtain justice'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 1) — Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Friday that President Rodrigo Duterte is studying how to proceed with the Marcos family's supposed offer to turn over their wealth to the government.

"We understand that certain parties have indicated to the President that there may be an opportunity for the assets of the Marcos family to be turned over to the Republic," Abella said in a statement. "As this matter becomes clearer, we will advise what further action will be taken to finally obtain justice."

Duterte said on Tuesday that the family of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, through a spokesperson, offered to turn over part of their wealth.

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

"Sabi nila [They said], they'll open everything, and properly return 'yung nakita lang [what is found]," the President said during the mass oath-taking of government officials and appointees at Malacañang.

However, Duterte clarified the family will turn over only a small amount of the wealth.

"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 the Fort Knox, it's just a few, but they said they would return it.]

Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, the daughter of President Marcos, said Thursday that there are no negotiations yet on the return of the wealth.

Read: Imee Marcos: No negotiations yet on return of family wealth

"Wala pa [None yet]," Marcos said in an ambush interview at the House of Representatives. "Pag-usapan na lang ng ating mga abogado [Our lawyers will talk about it]."

She added that 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.

[Translation: We believe that the President will end the decades of cases filed against us.]

Duterte-Marcos connection

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.

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 non-monetary 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.