Duterte: Marcoses offer settlement on family wealth

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 3) — President Rodrigo Duterte said the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos is "ready to return" their wealth to the government, possibly through a settlement.

"I just accepted the explanation na gusto nilang makipag-areglo na sa gobyerno kasi dapat matapos ito [that they want to settle with the government because this issue must end]," he told reporters in Davao City early Sunday morning after the birthday party of Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles.

Related: Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles joins PDP-Laban

"I accept the explanation because there is no other explanation," he added. "I do not know anything. I cannot debate with them. So sinabi ko [I said], I accept the invitation na [that] it's about time that this thing is finally settled."

Duterte added that he already spoke with Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, who also attended Nograles' party.

This came after the President said on Tuesday that the Marcos family, through a spokesperson, offered to turn over part of their wealth to the government.

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

However, Duterte said a law is needed for the turnover to happen.

"We have to start with Congress," he said. "I cannot say with finality na ito-ito ang mangyari [this will happen] because there will be so many stages. If it's an arbirtation, kasi areglo [because it's a settlement], it would undergo an arbitration, kung totoo talaga [if it's true]. Then it should be the Central Bank of the Philippines and the Secretary of Finance. A President cannot (negotiate). It has to be the law."

Duterte also said Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, an activist during the Marcos regime, would have the discretion to pursue further cases against the Marcoses.

"Maybe there would be a compromise," the President said. "Kung wala [If not], then you proceed."

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

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

"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.]

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.

He was ousted by popular revolt in 1986 amid allegations of corruption and human rights violations. He died in exile in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1989.

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

Laws on recovering Marcos wealth

There are existing laws to recover the Marcos family's ill-gotten wealth.

In February 1986, President Corazon Aquino established the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) through Executive Order No. 1.

The agency is tasked with the "recovery of all ill-gotten wealth accumulated by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, whether located in the Philippines or abroad."

The PCGG has recovered over ₱170 billion (US$3 billion) since then until December 2015.

In addition, as of December 2016, the commission filed 248 cases against the Marcoses and their cronies or oligarchs who had close ties with the regime.

Meanwhile, 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.