The Marcos corruption cases

“With the son of Marcos Sr occupying the presidency, we are now at a crossroads. Whether or not the BBM administration will respect the mandate of the PCGG or emasculate it, only time will tell.”

As early as 2003, the Supreme Court in Republic v. Sandiganbayan ruled that over 25 billion pesos worth of Marcos assets were considered ill-gotten wealth.

This followed nearly two-decades of legal struggle between the Philippine Government and the Marcos Family over the custody of these assets, kept in various Swiss bank accounts.

Upon her assumption of office following the successful EDSA Revolution, then President Corazon C. Aquino issued Executive Order 1 creating the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).

EO 1 primarily tasked the PCGG to recover all ill-gotten wealth of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates, and close associates.

Twelve days later, she issued her second EO prohibiting all persons and entities bearing knowledge of possession of said “ill-gotten” assets and properties from obstructing the government’s recovery efforts.

Pursuant to EO 2, the Philippine Republic, through the PCGG, filed with the Swiss Federal Police Department for mutual assistance to freeze the bank deposits of the Marcoses located in Switzerland.

Local authorities granted the request, and had the deposits blocked until a proper case could be filed.

In the early case of Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. vs. Republic of the Philippines, G.R. No. 189434, April 25, 2012, Republic, through the PCGG and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), sought the declaration of Swiss bank accounts totaling USD 356 million (now USD 658 million), and two treasury notes worth USD 25 million and USD 5 million, as ill-gotten wealth.

The Swiss accounts, previously held by five groups of foreign foundations, were deposited in escrow with the Philippine National Bank (PNB), while the treasury notes were frozen by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas(BSP).

Therein, the Court pointed out that based on the Official Report of the Minister of Budget, the total salaries of former President Marcos as President from 1966 to 1976 was P60,000 a year and from 1977 to 1985, P100,000 a year; while that of the former First Lady, Imelda R. Marcos, as Minister of Human Settlements from June 1976 to February 22-25, 1986 was P75,000 a year.

The Court in this case, found that the Republic was able to establish the prima facie presumption that the assets and properties acquired by the Marcoses were manifestly and patently disproportionate to their aggregate salaries as public officials.

The Republic presented further evidence that they had bigger deposits beyond their lawful incomes, foremost of which were the Swiss accounts deposited in the names of five foundations spirited away by the couple to different countries.

In the same case, Republic also sought the forfeiture of the assets of dummy corporations and entities established by nominees of Marcos and his wife, Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, as well as real and personal properties manifestly out of proportion to the spouses’ lawful income.

This claim was based on evidence collated by the PCGG with the assistance of the United States Justice Department and the Swiss Federal Police Department.

In the enumeration of properties included in the Petition, the Arelma assets were described as “Assets owned by Arelma, Inc., a Panamanian corporation organized in Liechtenstein, for sole purpose (sic) of maintaining an account in Merrill Lynch, New York.”

Paragraph 59 of the Petition for Forfeiture. FM and Imelda used a number of their close business associations or favorite cronies in opening bank accounts abroad for the purpose of laundering their filthy riches.

Aside from the foundations and corporations established by their dummies/nominees to hide their ill-gotten wealth, several other corporate entities had been formed for the same purpose.

As observed by the Court, the Marcoses give the same stock answer to the effect that they did not engage in any illegal activities, and that all their properties were lawfully acquired.

They fail to state with particularity the ultimate facts surrounding the alleged lawfulness of the mode of acquiring the funds in Arelma (which totaled USD 3,369,975.00 back in 1983), considering that the entirety of their lawful income amounted only to USD 304,372.43, or only 9 percent of the entire Arelma fund.

As a result, the Supreme Court affirmed the Sandiganbayan Decision dated 2 April 2009 of the Sandiganbayan that all assets, properties, and funds belonging to Arelma, S.A., with an estimated aggregate amount of USD 3,369,975 as of 1983, plus all interests and all other income that accrued thereon, forfeited in favor of the Republic.

In 2019, PCGG said it recovered P172 billion in ill-gotten wealth from the Marcos family.

A Sandiganbayan decision dated September 28, 2021 also ordered Royal Traders Holding Company, Incorporated (RTHCI) to pay the Philippine government at least P367 million, which was part of Marcos family’s money.

With the son of Marcos Sr occupying the presidency, we are now at a crossroads. Whether or not the BBM administration will respect the mandate of the PCGG or emasculate it, only time will tell.

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