Do you blush?

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Sunday, April 6, 2014


WHAT sets people apart from swine is the capacity to blush. “I will go wash. “And when my face is fair, you shall perceive. Whether I blush or no,” Shakespeare wrote.

Did Imelda Marcos and daughter Irene Marcos-Araneta blush Thursday? That’s when they asked the anti-graft court to reverse it’s January 2013 decision, directing that the jewelry lost in the People Power upheaval be auctioned.

The Supreme Court, a few days earlier this week, “affirmed with finality its 2012 ruling forfeiting $40 million (P1.8 billion) president Ferdinand
Marcos stashed in the Panamanian corporation Arelma. Ferdinand Jr. and Imelda claimed that as their own. No. That belongs to Juan Q. Taxpayer, the court said.

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Did Madame and children blush? “Girls blush, sometimes, because they are alive. Half wishing they were dead to save the shame,” Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote.

The US Court of Appeals (9th Circuit) slammed Ferdinand Jr. and mother with a $353.6-million contempt judgement two years back. Why? They tried to smuggle paintings and other artworks subject to court decision.

“Contumacious conduct,” the judge fumed in imposing a daily fine of $100,000.

There are three batches of confiscated gems. One is the “Malacañang Collection” found by 1986 People Power demonstrators in Malacañang just after the Marcoses scrammed on Chinook helicopters. That flight ended in Honolulu exile.

Thus, the second bundle of jewels is known as the “Honolulu Batch.” They were surrendered to US government, after racketeering charges were dropped. The gems were part of a US probe in early 1973, reported Mark Fineman in Los Angeles Times.

“Imelda took the Fifth Amendment more than 200 times....The hearing came just 24 hours after her husband, invoked his Fifth Amendment right 197 times during a similar deposition...”

The third, now in Bangko Sentral vaults, is the “Roumeliotes Set”— 60 gems confiscated from Greek national Demetriou Roumeliotes. A 37-carat diamond, crafted by Bulgari, is the centerpiece. “They were inside a package addressed to Imelda when seized at the Manila International Airport. Roumeliotes denied ownership, then later changed his song, saying the gems were fakes. No, snapped reputable auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Imelda agreed. “The jewelry was taken out of Malacañang without my knowledge, much less [with my] consent, between Feb. 26 and Feb. 27, 1986,” she said in a court petition. “They are my jewels.” Did she blush?

In between is Supreme Court decision of July 2003. (GR No. 152154) It directed that Marcos Swiss deposits, of US $658,175,373, be “forfeited.” The Swiss government returned the loot, through the efforts of the late Haydee Yorac of the PCGG.

Until that decision, the Philippine National Bank held the boodle in escrow. Imelda, Imee, Irene and Ferdinand Jr. tried—but failed—to claim that too.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism pinpointed three Filipinos who hold secret offshore trusts in the Virgin Islands: Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, then Rep. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito and ex-Sen. Manuel Villar.

In the 1986 People Power uproar, Imee left behind a notebook that contained the names of her father’s dummies. Does she blush over the Marcos record?

“'Tis not on youth’s smooth cheek the blush alone, which fades so fast,” Lord Byron wrote. “But the tender bloom of heart is gone, ere youth itself be past.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 06, 2014.

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