Duterte greenlights auction of Imelda Marcos jewelry

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The jewelry pieces of congresswoman and former First Lady Imelda Marcos were seized in Honolulu, Hawaii, where the family fled in February 1986 after a "people power" revolt booted her husband, late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos, from power.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 30) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday approved the auction of millions of pesos worth of jewelry seized from the family of late President Ferdinand Marcos, his spokesperson Sal Panelo said.

Panelo, in an ambush interview in Japan, confirmed the President's decision.

The Commission on Audit in a 2018 report said the Presidential Commission on Good Government -- the agency tasked to recover ill-gotten wealth from the Marcos family -- has yet to receive a reply to its request to sell ₱704.79 million worth of diamond- and gem-studded tiaras, bracelets, and necklaces in what is known as the Hawaii collection.

The PCGG request sent to the Office of the President, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez was what was apparently approved by the President on Thursday.

The jewelry pieces of congresswoman and former First Lady Imelda Marcos were seized in Honolulu, Hawaii, where the family fled in February 1986 after a "people power" revolt booted the former strongman from power. The jewelry have been stored in a vault at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The collection of eye-popping jewels includes a rare, 25-carat pink diamond that Christie's Auctions and Private Sales estimated in 2016 to be worth at least $5 million and a Cartier diamond tiara whose value has risen several fold from an earlier estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.

The Marcos matriarch, who has been convicted of graft, is known for her penchant for jewelry and for her extensive shoes collection. Two other jewelry trove seized by the government from the Marcoses are known as the Malacanang and Roumeliotes collections. Together, the three jewelry collection are believed worth at least P1 billion, according to the PCGG.

The family allegedly amassed at least ₱530-billion from government coffers during Marcos' 20-year rule, according to the latest PCGG estimate.

CNN Philippines' Correspondent AC Nicholls contributed to this report.