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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – A sprawling 57-hectare property overlooking the Paoay Lake in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, belongs to the Marcoses, and the government should already drop its claim on it, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr said.
In an 18-page memorandum filed last January 4 through lawyers Joseph C. Tan and Anna Liza G. Logan, Marcos insisted that the real owner of the property was his father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
The ousted president’s wife, Imelda Marcos, turned parts of this property into Malacañang ti Amianan (Malacañang of the North) during the Marcos regime, spending government money to build a replica of the presidential palace in Manila, a sports complex, and an 18-hole golf course there.
Today, it stands as one of Ilocos Norte’s prime tourist attractions. Marcos’ daughter Imee, the current governor, has initiated a massive tourism campaign for the province using Paoay as the gateway through the slogan, “Paoay Kumakaway.”
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) had asked the court to declare as illegal the 1978 lease contract between then President Marcos and the government-owned Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) on grounds that the former president was not the owner of the land.
The contract required the PTA to pay a nominal lease fee of P1.00 (one peso) per year for 25 years to Marcos as “lessor and owner” of the land. The original owners of the land were families from Laoag City and other towns.
But as president at the time, Marcos was not allowed to participate in any business or have financial interests in any contract with government or its agencies, PCGG lawyers told the court.
The lawyers also said there is no certificate of title covering the property stated in the 1978 lease contract nor any official record that Marcos paid tax on it as a landowner.
But Bongbong Marcos argued that the government did not file any forfeiture case to assert its ownership of the property.
The court should have dismissed government’s petition outright since the Sandiganbayan also has no jurisdiction over a case that does not involve the recovery of ill-gotten wealth, Marcos added.
“(T)his action is not one for recovery of ill-gotten wealth, coupled with the fact that the parcels of land are not under sequestration, this Honorable Court must dismiss for lack of jurisdiction,” Marcos said through his lawyers.
The PCGG action is likewise moot since the contract it was seeking to nullify had expired in 2003, when the 25-year lease ended, according to him.
Marcos’ father, who was born in Batac, Ilocos Norte, was ousted after a bloodless popular revolt in February 1986. The government has filed various ill-gotten wealth cases against the Marcos family. Just this week, the Sandiganbayan ruled that Imelda Marcos’ jewelry collection was ill gotten and therefore belonged to the Philippine government. – Rappler.com