Will PCGG withdraw Marcos loot cases? 'It depends'

MANILA, Philippines – In light of President Rodrigo Duterte's announcement that the Marcos family will return to the government some of their ill-gotten wealth, will the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) now withdraw the civil suits before anti-graft court Sandiganbayan?

"It depends on what will be the terms of the compromise settlement," PCGG Acting Chair Reynold Munsayac said on Thursday, August 31.

Munsayac said the PCGG "welcomes any move" which will expedite the process of restoring Marcos loot to the national treasury. (READ: Recovering Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth: After 30 years, what?)

Munsayac said it will be for Sandiganbayan to decide to withdraw the cases, totaling 43, of which, 40 are still pending. In a court process, the prosecution can file a motion to withdraw. The court gives a lot of weight to this motion. The PCGG and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) are the prosecution in all these cases.

In effect, Munsayac is not dismissing the possibility that the government will back down on the civil suits which is worth around P32 billion. The amount only pertains to the civil suits and separate from other PCGG efforts like, for example, the coco levy funds. The PCGG said it has recovered P170 billion from 1986 to December 2015. 

Earlier on Thursday, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos said she trusts that Duterte will be the one to end "decades of cases."

Tiwala kami sa Presidente na siya ang makakapagtapos ng deka-dekadang kaso. Ang pamilya nag-uusap pa, pero nasa kamay pa ng mga abogado,” said Marcos without elaborating. 

(We trust that the president will end decades and decades of cases. The family is still discussing, but our lawyers will handle this.)

"This will be premature but again if it will be used in the fast recovery of ill-gotten wealth at magagamit 'yan ng ordinaryong mamamayan ng Pilipino...because the recovery of the PCGG will go to 2 recipients, either for agrarian reform program or human rights victims, imagine niyo kung may magagamit na pera para sa repormang agraryo at para sa mga biktima ng human rights violations, ay maganda yan para sa bansa," Munsayac said.

(This will be premature but again if it will be used in the fast recovery of ill-gotten wealth and it will be used by the ordinary Filipinos...because the recovery of the PCGG will go to 2 recipients, either for agrarian reform program or human rights victims, imagine if you have the money which you can use for agrarian reform and human rights victims, that's good for the country.)

"To tell you honestly, the concept of compromise settlement is not new to PCGG. It has been done repeatedly, because in this manner you will be able to obtain in a faster manner the ill-gotten wealth," Munsayac said.

Munsayac added that the PCGG "respects the wisdom of the President."

"One of the main mandates of the PCGG is to recover this ill-gotten wealth and ensure that these will be used for the benefit of the Filipino people. We will welcome any action or effort that will help us fulfill our mandate," Munsayac said.

Duterte said that an emissary told him that the Marcos family expressed willingness to return loot to the government, a pronouncement which has been criticized for putting the national interest at a disadvantage.  Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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