Lawmaker seeks to abolish agency recovering Marcos wealth

September 13, 2022 - 3:32 PM
PCGG_Marcos wealth
A Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) official shows a jewellery set of the confiscated jewellery collection of former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos during the appraisal by Sotheby's inside the Central Bank headquarters in Manila November 27, 2015. (Reuters/Erik De Castro/File Photo)

 — A lawmaker has submitted a bill seeking to scrap a commission tasked with recovering billions of dollars in wealth plundered during the rule of the president’s late father, arguing it has “outlived it usefulness”.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) has since 1986 retrieved about $5 billion from the family of incumbent President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, but about $2.4 billion is still caught up in litigation.

The PCGG was established a few days after the elder Marcos fled a popular uprising against his two decades of decadent rule at the helm of what many historians consider one of Asia’s most famous kleptocracies.

Marcos Sr died in exile in Hawaii in 1989, after which his family returned to the Philippines to launch a comeback that culminated in his son’s landslide election victory in May.

Congressman Bienvenido Abante, who filed the bill, said the commission had run its course.

“If after that long period of time, they failed to establish whether the sequestered assets are ill-gotten or not and who are the owners of these assets, they will not be able to do so even if we would give it another hundred years,” he said.

During election campaigning, the Marcos family insisted its vast fortune was legitimately obtained and the commission was merely an “anti-Marcos agency.”

Part of the billions recovered has been used to compensate thousands of victims of state brutality during the notorious 1970s martial law era of the late Marcos.

An attempt to abolish the commission in 2018 was vetoed by the previous president, but the latest effort is unlikely to face resistance, with Marcos commanding a legislative super-majority.

His cousin is lower house speaker, his son is a congressman and his sister a senator, underlining the power and influence still wielded by the Marcos family, decades after its humiliating retreat.

The president’s press secretary did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the bill.

Opposition Akbayan party-list vowed to block it, calling it “an attempt to abolish the country’s sense of justice and history.”

READ: Marcos could control hunt for family’s wealth as Philippines president

Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Martin Petty