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The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), cooperating with the Washington DC-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) recently published a two-part report that revealed that Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos Manotoc, eldest daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos is the beneficiary of a secret trust account held in the British Virgin Islands.
If this report is proven to be true, then the Marcoses have indeed been thumbing their noses and lying to the Filipino people all this time. Imee’s mother Imelda Marcos now a congresswoman used to proclaim that she had become but a poor widow. The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) however, estimates that Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos stashed away roughly $5 billion throughout his 21-year rule.
The PCGG was formed in 1986 by then Pres. Corazon Aquino’s Executive Order No. 1. The commission was tasked with recovering all the ill-gotten wealth of Marcos and his cronies. The PCGG’s success rate has been underwhelming due to its having lost a significant number of court cases. One big loss last year was the Sandiganbayan’s dismissal of the case against cigarette magnate Lucio Tan despite strong evidence against him. It is alleged that Marcos and Tan had a 60-40 business arrangement, the former dictator of course having the larger share. Sadly the PCGG has over the years turned into a typical bureaucracy more concerned with its own survival than with accomplishing the task it was created for.
By the PCGG own admission it had no clue Marcos Manotoc’s Caribbean trust account—called the Sintra Trust—even existed. The commission only found out along with the millions of Filipinos who read the PCIJ report. But now that the commission is aware of its existence, it is obligated to look into this matter. PCGG’s current chairman, Andres D. Bautista, appointed by President Benigno Aquino III in September 2010 appears more energetic and willing to go the extra mile to recover the Marcos’s stolen wealth. A far cry from his predecessor Camilo Sabio, a Gloria Arroyo appointee who epitomized the aging bureaucrat under whose watch the PCGG would lose one court case after another.There are proposals on the table to abolish the PCGG once and for all, as it appears to have outlived its usefulness and is now costing the Philippine taxpayers a significant amount each year. But before the powers-that-be decide to pull the plug, let’s give the commission one more job. Recover the Sintra Trust. Do it not only for all those who suffered under Marcos’s brutal dictatorship; do it also for the country. The Philippines after all is the rightful owner of all the Marcos stolen wealth. Published 4/6/2013