Duterte has authority to deal with Marcoses, says Lagman
MANILA, Philippines – Why wait for the authority you already have?
An opposition legislator on Tuesday, September 5, said President Rodrigo Duterte does not need the approval of Congress to proceed with talks with the Marcos family over the return to the Philippine government of their apparent ill-gotten wealth.
It is because, Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman explained, the President already has that power.
“The President of the Republic has the continuing principal authority under existing law to recover the Marcos ill-gotten hoard with the assistance of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG),” said Lagman, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, during a press conference.
The PCGG, created via Executive Order Number 1 by former president Cory Aquino, has the task of “assisting the President” in “the recovery of all ill-gotten wealth accumulated by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates whether located in the Philippines or abroad.”
At the time the Executive Order was released, Aquino was both head of the executive and the legislative.
Lagman added that the President also has the power to prompt investigation into cases of graft and corruption, as well as negotiate the surrender of the Marcos wealth.
“However, the unwritten rule in the projected negotiation must conform to transparency, accountability, and no conditionality,” he said.
He clarified, however, that this power does not include absolving the Marcos family from pending cases against them over their wealth – unless, of course, the 17th Congress amends this.
Asked why Duterte, through Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella, asked for the authority in the first place, Lagman quipped: “Most probably he doesn’t know that he has an existing continuing authority.”
The discussion was sparked by Duterte’s announcement in late August that a “spokesman” of the Marcos family had expressed the late dictator’s heirs' willingness to return some of their wealth, including some gold bars.
The family patriarch, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, placed the country under martial law in 1972, citing the alleged Communist threat. Immediately, critics of the government then were arrested. Although martial law was lifted in 1981, Marcos continued to be in power until 1986, when he was ousted via the People Power revolution.
The Marcos years are marred by human rights abuses and the pilferage of public funds by Marcos and his cronies.
Lagman, whose brother Hermon was among the thousands who disappeared during the martial years, questioned the Marcos heirs’ sincerity in the first place.
When asked about the supposed negotiations, Marcos’ daughter Imee, now governor of Ilocos Norte, said negotiations were not ongoing and that it was best to consult their lawyers.
She did say, however, that they “trusted” that Duterte would “ends decades of cases.”
House Speaker Panteleon Alvarez, when asked about the supposed request from the Palace, said no official communication had reached the House. He also said he did not know what process was involved in granting the President this apparent authority.
Alvarez, a Duterte ally, questioned the Marcos’ sincerity as well.
“Tignan muna natin seryoso ba kayo o hindi? Mamaya, hindi na naman seryoso yan (Are we sure we know whether that’s serious or not? It might not be serious after all),” he said. – Rappler.com