PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is not lawyering for the Marcoses accused of amassing ill-gotten wealth allegedly stolen from state coffers, Malacañang said on Friday, March 1.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the remark after Duterte raised doubts on allegations that the family of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos illegally amassed up to $10 billion during the former dictator's two-decade rule.
Panelo said Duterte's critics could not merely comprehend the Chief Executive's stance on the supposed ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos clan.
"Kasi nga, 'di nila nai-intindihan 'yung point of view ng Presidente. Ang point of view lang ng Presidente with respect to other billions na sinasabing hindi pa napapatunayan 'yun. Unang-una, paano mo mapapatunayan 'yun eh wala naman tayong ganun pera?" he told Palace reporters.
"Now, the question is, where in the heavens name did the Marcos got so much wealth...? Eh 'di ba sinasabi $400 billion ang ninakaw. Ha? $400 billion? Eh wala naman tayong perang ganun (They're saying some $400 billion were stolen? Huh? $400 billion? We don't have such money)," he added.
Panelo's $400-billion claim was beyond accusations that the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses stands at $10 billion.
As of 2017, the Philippine Commission on Good Government has so far recovered more than P171 billion worth of ill-gotten wealth stolen by the Marcoses, a mere fraction of the P530 billion stolen from government coffers.
Despite this, Duterte, known to have close ties with the Marcoses, said the accusations against the controversial clan remained unproven.
"Until now, you have not proven anything except to sequester and sell -- hindi mo nga sigurado kung talagang kay Marcos ba 'yan (You are not even sure if that really belongs to Marcos)," he said in a speech in Manila on Tuesday, February 26.
Duterte's statement has drawn flak, especially from the victims of human rights abuses during Marcos's martial rule.
Martial law victims and critics have stressed that court decisions validate existence of Marcos family's ill-gotten wealth.
Over 200 cases concerning Marcoses' wealth are still pending in courts.
As for Panelo, Duterte had "no choice" but acknowledge the court rulings.
"From the President's perspective as a lawyer, whatever the Supreme Court says, we have no choice but to agree," the Palace official said.
"But with respect to those cases decided by the court, eh walang question dun (we don't question it)," he added.
In August 2017, the President revealed that the Marcos family had expressed willingness to return "a few gold bars," but such move is yet to be done.
Panelo said it should be the Marcoses, not the government, who should take the initiative to return some of their ill-gotten wealth.
He said it could be done through a "compromised" deal.
"Syempre ang pera nasa kanila eh. Kaya kailangan mo pa din makipagdeal sa Marcoses (We have to take a deal with the Marcoses because they have the money)," Panelo said.
"Sila ang nag-offer, eh 'di sila ang gumalaw (They made the offer so they should initiate the negotiations with the government)," he added. (SunStar Philippines)