The Marcos Corruption Cases

“With Marcos Sr’s son holding the presidency, we are now at a crossroads. Whether or not the BBM administration respects the PCGG’s mandate or emasculates it, only time will tell.

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

This followed nearly two decades of legal battle between the Philippine government and the Marcos family over the custody of these assets, kept in various Swiss bank accounts.

Upon taking office following the success of the EDSA Revolution, President Corazon C. Aquino issued Executive Order 1 establishing the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).

EO 1 primarily tasked the PCGG with retrieving all ill-gotten wealth from former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates, and close aides.

Twelve days later, it issued its second EO prohibiting all persons and entities with knowledge of possessing said “ill-gotten” assets and properties from obstructing government recovery efforts.

Pursuant to EO 2, the Republic of the Philippines, through the PCGG, filed with the Swiss Federal Police a request for mutual assistance to freeze the bank deposits of the Marcos located in Switzerland.

Local authorities granted the request and blocked deposits until a proper case could be made.

In Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. v. Republic of the Philippines, GR No. 189434, April 25, 2012, the Republic, through the PCGG and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), requested the disclosure of bank accounts Swiss securities totaling USD 356 million (currently USD 658 million), and two treasury bonds worth USD 25 million and USD 5 million, as ill-gotten wealth.

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

In it, 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 were 60,000 pesos per year and from 1977 to 1985, 100,000 pesos per 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 75,000 pesos per year.

In that case, the Court found that the Republic was able to establish the prima facie presumption that the assets and properties acquired by the Marcoses were grossly and manifestly disproportionate to their overall salaries as public servants.

The Republic presented additional evidence that it had deposits larger than its legal income, foremost among them the Swiss accounts deposited in the name of five foundations carried by the couple in different countries.

In the same case, Republic also requested the confiscation of the assets of fictitious companies and entities created by the agents of Marcos and his wife, Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, as well as real estate and personal property manifestly disproportionate to the legal income of the husband.

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

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

Paragraph 59 of the motion for confiscation. FM and Imelda used a number of their close business connections or favorite pals to open bank accounts overseas in an attempt to launder their filthy wealth.

Apart from the foundations and corporations set up by their models/nominees to hide their ill-gotten wealth, several other corporate bodies had been formed for the same purpose.

As the Court observed, the Marcos respond similarly that they did not engage in any illegal activity and that all of their property was lawfully acquired.

They fail to state precisely the ultimate facts surrounding the alleged lawfulness of the mode of acquisition of the funds in Arelma (which amounted to 3,369,975.00 USD in 1983), considering that all of their lawful income is not amounted to only 304,372.43 USD, or only 9% of the entire Arelma fund.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court upheld the Sandiganbayan’s April 2, 2009 decision of the Sandiganbayan that all assets, properties and funds owned by Arelma, SA, with an estimated aggregate amount of US$3,369,975 in 1983, plus all interest and all other resulting revenues forfeited to the Republic.

In 2019, PCGG said it recovered 172 billion pesos in ill-gotten wealth from the Marcos family.

A Sandiganbayan ruling dated September 28, 2021 also ordered Royal Traders Holding Company, Incorporated (RTHCI) to pay the Philippine government at least 367 million pesos, which was part of the Marcos family money.

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

Comments are closed.