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What Went Before: The $35M claim on alleged Marcos wealth

/ 06:09 AM June 28, 2012

Ferdinand Marcos was sued in the US federal court in Hawaii, where he fled, on behalf of some 10,000 victims of arrest, torture and execution. The plaintiffs obtained a nearly $2-billion judgment after he died and now seek related assets. (photo courtesy of Bongbong Marcos facebook account)

The $35-million claim against the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his family stemmed from an original $2 million deposited with Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith in New York by Arelma Foundation, a dummy Panamanian corporation formed by the Marcoses in 1972.

By the time the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) discovered the secret account in 2000, it had grown to $35 million.

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In 2010, the New York State Supreme Court took custody of the $35-million account pending determination by the tribunal on who should get the funds.

The claimants included human rights victims, the Philippine government, Arelma Foundation, Philippine National Bank (PNB) and the estate of the late Roger Roxas, the treasure hunter who claimed that Marcos stole a “golden Buddha” he had found.

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In November 2009, the New York court junked the motions of Merrill Lynch, PNB and the Arelma Foundation seeking to dismiss a petition of the human rights abuse victims.

The human rights victims had demanded that the court turn over to them the $35 million in accordance with a Hawaii court ruling in 1995 awarding them nearly $2 billion in damages. The Hawaii court ruled that part of the $2 billion be taken from the $35-million account.

The Philippine government opposed the judgment, contending that the dispute should be resolved in a Philippine court.

In 2008, a US Supreme Court reversed the Hawaii court ruling. That year, the Philippine Supreme Court created a special division in Sandiganbayan to hear the government case to recover the money.

In April 2009, the Sandiganbayan Special Division declared the Arelma assets as ill-gotten and ordered the deposits forfeited in favor of the Philippine government.

The PCGG said that as of January 2011, it had recovered P93 billion in stashed bank accounts and proceeds of sales of assets by the Marcoses and their allies, including prime properties in New York.

In 2010, then PCGG Commissioner Ricardo Abcede said that he met with Marcos’ son-in-law, Greggy Araneta, to talk about the recovery of about P140 billion in Marcos assets tied up in 520 civil cases in the local courts. Abcede said that a settlement with the Marcos heirs would declog the courts of the Marcos ill-gotten wealth cases. Ana Roa, Inquirer Research

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Sources: Inquirer Archives

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TAGS: Americas, Ferdinand Marcos, Human Rights, ill-gotten wealth, Judiciary, Philippine, US, US Court of Appeals
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