From SEASIA-L@LIST.MSU.EDU Sat Jul 8 07:55:58 2000
Date: Fri, 7 Jul 2000 14:36:15 -0500
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From: Thomas J. Bellows <tbellows@LONESTAR.JPL.UTSA.EDU>
Subject: Re: Kilosbayan: The President's Page

> Subject: Kilosbayan: The President's Page

Some highlights

Excerpts from Presidential Plunder: The Quest for the Marcos Ill-Gotten Wealth by Jovito R. Salonga (2000)

Executive Order No. 1, signed by President Aquino on February 28, 1986, formally created the PCGG, defined its central task: the recovery of the ill-gotten wealth of the former Marcos First Family, their subordinates and associates, including the takeover or sequestration of all business enterprises owned or controlled by them. E01 enumerated the powers of the PCGG to carry out its principal task. Recovery of the stolen wealth, not prosecution of the thieves and the plunderers, was our main responsibility. The task of prosecuting them was left to the prosecution arm of the Government. It was understood, however, that the PCGG would get and furnish the necessary evidence.

Techniques of Presidential Plunder

Ill-gotten wealth, under Executive Order No. 2, includes assets and properties purportedly acquired, directly or indirectly, by former President Marcos, his immediate family, relatives and close associates, through illegal use of government funds or properties; or their having taken undue advantage of their public office; or their use of powers, influence or relationships, resulting in their unjust enrichment and causing grave damage and prejudice to the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines. >

In light of the evidence consisting of thousands of Malacañang documents, we confirmed what we had known before and during martial rule. Among the ways or techniques by which the illegal wealth was acquired and safeguarded were:

1. Creation of monopolies in certain vital industries and placing them under the control of cronies or associates of Marcos, such as sugar (under Roberto Benedicto) and coconut (under Eduardo Cojuangco);

2. Awarding of loans by Government banking or financing institutions to favored private individuals or associates, with little or no collateral, at the behest of Marcos or Mrs. Marcos;

3. Outright takeover by Marcos relatives or associates of large public or private enterprises with a nominal amount as consideration. The business and assets of National Shipyard and Engineering Company (NASSCO) and other related Government-owned or controlled entities were taken over in 1972-73 by a private corporation, known as BASECO, dominated by Marcos and Alfredo Bejo Romualdez. Shortly after the imposition of martial law, Eugenio Lopez, Jr. was imprisoned for alleged involvement in the attempted assassination of Marcos. For a very small downpayment of 10,000 pesos, his father, Eugenio Lopez, who was abroad when martial law was declared, sold and transferred his total shareholding and control in MERALCO to Benjamin Kokoy Romualdez, Imelda's younger brother, on the reported assurance that his son would be released.

4. Direct raiding of the public treasury and Government financing institutions. Intelligence funds, e.g., were disbursed for the trips of Mrs. Imelda Marcos. The Central Bank and PNB, Manila and New York, were used for the private benefit of the Marcoses. Bank accounts were opened in Banque Paribas, Suisse, and called Intelligence Funds 1 and 2.

5. The issuance of presidential decrees and orders to favor certain individuals and enterprises to enable them to amass wealth for the joint benefit of said individuals and the Marcoses. The coconut levy imposed through a series of presidential decrees from 1973 to 1982, the Tourist Duty Free Shops (TDFS) run by Ms. Glecy Tantoco, the Fortune Tobacco of Lucio Tan, and the cigarette filters of Herminio Disini, may be cited as good examples.

6. Kickbacks and commissions from firms or enterprises doing business in the Philippines. Former Minister of Public Highways Baltazar Aquino spoke, under oath, of how he deposited huge amounts of money for Marcos bank accounts abroad coming from reparations kickbacks.

7. Use of shell corporations and dummy companies to launder money and invest in real estate in such places as New York, California and Hawaii.

8. Skimming off foreign aid and other forms of international assistance. For example, the aid given to the Philippines in exchange for participation of the Philippine Civil Action Group (Philcag) in the Vietnam war was diverted, as exposed during the Symington hearings.

9. Depositing with the use of pseudonyms, numbered accounts and code names, in various banks here and abroad, to conceal and preserve the ill-gotten wealth.

Given the limited material resources of the Marcos couple before Ferdinand was elected president in November 1965, as shown in their income tax returns, one can readily appreciate the far-reaching implications of Imelda's revelation in December 1998: We own virtually everything in the Philippines.

Imelda: We own practically everything in the Philippines......

Many people did not realize how much had been accomplished by the PCGG through sequestration until Mrs. Imelda Marcos came out with a series of bombshell revelations as published from day to day in the December 1998 issues of Philippine Daily Inquirer (December 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.)

Without realizing its far-reaching implications, Mrs. Marcos declared: We practically own everything in the Philippines, from electricity, telecommunications, airlines, banking, beer and tobacco, newspaper publishing, television stations, shipping, oil, mining, hotels and health resorts, down to coconut mills, small firearms, real estate and insurance.

Ms. Imelda Marcos said she would reclaim an estimated 500 billion pesos (around $13 billion in 1999), now in the hands of the Marcos cronies. The prominent Marcos cronies, whom she called trustees, were, by her own account, merely holding many of the sequestered properties for and in the name of her husband, Ferdinand E. Marcos. This was precisely what the PCGG had maintained since 1986, except that the Marcoses are not the real owners—it is the Filipino people. Among the trustees she named were Lucio Tan, Eduardo Danding Cojuangco, the late Ramon Cojuangco and his son, Antonio Tonyboy Cojuangco, Imelda Cojuangco, Herminio Disini, Rolando Gapud, Jose Yao Campos, Roberto Benedicto and many others.

Among the corporations belonging to the Marcos family, Mrs. Imelda Marcos claimed, are the biggest in the country, such as Philippine Long Distance Company (PLDT), San Miguel Corporation (SMC), Philippine Airlines (PAL), Fortune Tobacco, Allied Banking, United Coconut Planters Bank, Manila Electric Company (MERALCO), Manila Bulletin, and many others. She said that these companies, which had been entrusted by the Marcos family to the cronies, were sequestered by the PCGG. Hence, the Marcos lawyers were ready for the biggest litigation ever in Philippine history. She actually began by claiming in the Sandiganbayan, through the Enrile law offices, the PLDT and other properties surrendered to the PCGG by Jose Yao Campos.

The Imelda revelations, stripped of some portions which were exaggerated to show that Ferdinand Marcos was very rich to start with, may constitute the best admission of the fact that the Marcoses had plundered the wealth of the nation.

Mrs. Marcos' Shoes

At two o'clock in the afternoon, March 25, I conferred with the editors of Time magazine. Again, the subject was the stolen wealth of the Marcoses and the ongoing litigations in New York and Hawaii.

One woman editor asked me the rhetorical question: How do you explain the accumulation by Mrs. Marcos of thousands of shoes? She can't possibly use them all! I vividly recall my answer: Your question is a theological question, but I am no theologian. I am just a simple country lawyer. They all laughed.

The Marcos Cronies

On April 16, PCGG Commissioner Pete Yap left for Switzerland bringing with him some more important documents, enabling him and our Swiss lawyers to file a supplementary request dated April 18, 1986. This supplemental request, coursed through the Philippine Embassy upon instructions of the Solicitor General, and filed with the Federal Department for justice and Police, names the following associates and cronies of Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda Romualdez Marcos: Edna Guiyab Camcam; Roman Cruz, Jr.; Andres Genito, Jr.; Gliceria Tantoco and Bienvenido Tantoco; Geronimo Velasco; Fabian Ver; Lucio Tan; Ignacio Jimenez; Baltazar Aquino; Jose Yao Campos; Roberto S. Benedicto; Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr.; Rolando Gapud; Benjamin Kokoy Romualdez; Herminio Disini; Rodolfo Cuenca; Antonio Floirendo; Fe Roa Jimenez; and Alfredo Bejo Romualdez.

Our information was that both PNB Manila and PNB New York had been deeply involved in the remittances of huge public funds to pay for the New York buildings bought by the Marcoses, through their dummies and agents, particularly the Bernsteins and the Tantocos.

Disclosure and Immunity of Cronies

Our formula, I explained to the media after the Cabinet meeting, was simple: (1) a fair and full disclosure, including an explanation of the nature and extent of the relationship with Marcos and/or Mrs. Marcos, and a summary of all the ill-gotten assets, including their fair market value and location; (2) an unequivocal offer of restitution to the new Government; and (3) a declaration of willingness to testify, if necessary, against them. In exchange, the Commission would extend, in accordance with Executive Order No. 1, immunity from suit, provided the disclosure is found to be true and correct.

Revelations of Oscar Cariño

Toward the end of April, 1986, I received an important call from a high-ranking official. The former head of PNB New York, Mr. Oscar Cariño, would like to see me. I said sure. Mr. Cariño came immediately and after the amenities, he made his revelations, with self-reproach and contrition, about how PNB New York was used by the Marcoses for their personal benefit, especially in the purchase of the Manhattan buildings. I called Juan Saavedra and our valuable co-worker, Vic Barrios, to formalize Cariño's revelations for submission to the Federal District Court of New York.

The Tourist Duty Free Shops

For the first time, our right to issue a sequestration order was squarely put in issue before the Supreme Court. Fortunately, we had the smoking gun evidence in our possession including letters and reports from Ms. Glecy Tantoco to Imelda Marcos, confirming that the business was actually owned by the former First Lady, either solely or in partnership with the Tantoco family.

Does Crime Pay?

I appealed to the Commissioners with these words: Let us not betray our people's faith in us. For if we do, a dictator will come again some day, in the name of national security and stability and do what Marcos did, since after all, Marcos and his associates here and abroad shall have demonstrated for all the world to see that crime pays.

Refusal to accept the Marcoses

Toward the last week of July, 1986, we received the news that Spain, Indonesia and Singapore had refused to accept Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. However, Panama, which once took in the Shah of Iran, accepted Marcos, then changed its mind as the Marcoses reportedly prepared to board a plane in Hawaii. As an Opposition leader in Panama put it, the people of Panama did not want to take in any more political garbage.

Recovery of Our Honor

On August 21, 1986 the nation will pause and honor a man who returned to suffer with his people and try to persuade Mr. Marcos into restoring our lost freedoms. Ninoy Aquino was brutally assassinated, he did not even make it to his old isolation cell in Fort Bonifacio, but because of that cold-blooded murder, the Philippines was never the same again. Now we are told by the Marcoses and their cronies that under the Cory Aquino Government, their lives, liberties and properties are being violated, without due process of law. But none of them have been imprisoned so far. Their only complaint is that their deposits, shares of stock, luxurious mansions and office buildings have been frozen or sequestered by the PCGG, awaiting final disposition by the courts of justice.

But what they do not seem to realize is that no asset can be sequestered without prima facie evidence of illegal acquisition.

One point I stressed toward the end of my speech was that as important as the recovery of the ill-gotten wealth is the recovery of our honor, our moral values, our sense of integrity as a people. Our other task under EO 1 was to adopt concrete measures so what happened under Marcos will not happen again.

Deposition of the Marcoses in Honolulu (September 1986)

We figured that the Marcos couple would be in a dilemma. If they were to deny under oath the authenticity of the documents, they would be liable for perjury. We in the PCGG were sure these documents were genuine, not only because of the place where the Marcoses had kept the documents but also because we knew and were familiar with the signatures of the Marcos couple. On the other hand, if they were to affirm the authenticity of said documents, something which was remote, their assertion would constitute an express admission of their having deposited ill-gotten wealth in the Swiss banks. Should they refuse to answer on the ground of self-incrimination, one could safely conclude that the documents, which they had denounced as forgeries, were authentic. Our speculation was that both Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos would choose to remain silent by invoking the Fifth Amendment. It would be up to the proper court to decide whether they had the right to remain silent.

The first day of the deposition was September 30, with Ferdinand E. Marcos as the witness. When Marcos was asked whether he was familiar with the Security Bank and Trust Company, Marcos had a long-winded, kilometric explanation for refusing to answer any question. He rationalized his answer to remain silent. The gist of his justification was that the proceeding was merely part of a political plan to prosecute him since anything he would say would be used in a criminal case filed against him by the revolutionary government in the Philippines. Later he was asked whether he knew Rolando Gapud; on the admonition of his counsel, he merely claimed the right against self-incrimination and the right to remain silent on the same ground. He was asked: Mr. Marcos, you have maintained accounts in Swiss banks in Switzerland, have you not? Marcos made the same claim and asserted the same right to remain silent. Then he was asked: Among the accounts that you have controlled in Swiss banks have been those under alias names William Saunders and Gene (sic) Ryan, correct? Marcos: Same response. I claim the right against self-incrimination and the right to remain silent. So it went on and on—he was asked about other transactions, about names of various subordinates and business associates. As the lawyers completed the court-ordered deposition, reported the Manila Chronicle, Marcos blew up. He attacked the government of President Aquino. He called the questioning outrageous. Several times, he told the lawyers that he was convinced that Mrs. Aquino's top priority is to put him in jail. Except for a few items, he maintained the same excuse until the latter part when he was given the chance to give any statement he might wish to make. He said he felt he was being degraded and humiliated. But when he was asked for the basis, he sought refuge again in the 5th amendment. All in all, Marcos invoked the right to remain silent 197 times.

The presence of Mrs. Marcos was sought and she was produced the next day. Virtually the same questions were asked and, on the admonition of counsel, she too refused to incriminate herself, except that she cried and cried. Mrs. Marcos did not speak of forgeries any more—she merely claimed the right to remain silent. I felt that if the Marcos couple were sure that the Malacañang documents where their signatures appeared had been forged, they would have spoken up and condemned their signatures as forgeries under oath. Like her husband, Imelda asserted the right to remain silent more than 200 times. Her deposition took six hours.

Unprecedented Triumph in New Jersey

On Saturday, September 13, Boni Gillego called to give me a most welcome piece of news—we won the case in New Jersey against the Marcoses, their children and associates. Our lawyers had filed a Motion for Summary judgment and this was granted. The Superior Court of New Jersey ordered the transfer to the Philippine Government of two residential properties (bought by Marcos and used by the Marcos children) at 2659 Princeton Pike near Princeton University, and the latter's bank account in New Jersey amounting to around P40 million. The total amount was not substantial but the implication of the decision was quite historic: this was the first time in American history that a dictator of another country was made to realize that he cannot plunder his country's wealth, invest part of the proceeds in the United States and get away with it.