Sabio blames Salonga for failure to fully recover Marcos' ill-gotten wealth

June 28, 2010 10:21 pm 

MANILA, June 28 — Outgoing Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman Camilo Sabio on Monday put the blame on former Senate President and the first PCGG chairman Jovito Salonga for the government’s failure to fully recover the ill-gotten wealth of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, his family and cronies

Sabio said contrary to common knowledge, it was Salonga that should be blamed for the Commission’s failure to recover the ill-gotten wealth despite the powers at his disposal in the aftermath of the 1986 EDSA People Power uprising that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

“It was a historic failure that could be attributed to former Senate President Jovito Salonga. The only time it could have been finished was during his term,” Sabio told a late afternoon press conference at the United Coconut Planter Bank (UCPB) office in Makati City.

Sabio said that at the time, President Corazon “Cory” Aquino has dictatorial powers that Salonga could have utilized to recover all documents, traced the ill-gotten wealth and recover it if he “had only the political will” to do so.

From Feb. 28 to March 25, 1986, Aquino has dictatorial powers until the so-called “Freedom Constitution” was passed, he said. The PCGG was created by the revolutionary government of Aquino with the issuance of Executive Order No- 1 on Feb. 28, 1986 –Cory's first legislative act as a revolutionary president.

“They could have finished it in a month. But why Sen. Salonga not able to do it? He could have finished everything but it appears from his book that he was more concerned about strengthening his hold on to the Liberal Party at a time when his position was threatened by such personalities as Peping Cojuangco, Komong Sumulong and others. He was more concerned about his desire to become the next president so he did not have the political will to do the job,” Sabio said.

He said that even Salonga himself has admitted that they have all the evidence against the Marcoses and their cronies. The documents and evidence seized by American authorities from the Marcoses when they landed in Hawaii were also return by the US State Department to the Philippines, he said.

”Such act of confiscation and take over would have been confirmed in both the so-called Freedom Constitution and the 1987 Constitution which was overwhelmingly ratified on February 2, 1987, and would put closure to it. This supreme opportunity was lost forever when the New Constitution took effect. Had former Senate President Salonga not failed, there would have been already a historic closure of this controversy which has been a major obstacle to the unity of our people,” he said.

The PCGG chief said this resulted to the succeeding administration being blamed by the public for the failure to fully recover the ill-gotten wealth.

“He (Salonga) bequeathed to us a mission impossible job. This is an endless and interminable litigation,” he said.

The second “failure” of Salonga, he said was his insistence to sell the five buildings in New York –Building on 40th Wall Street now named the Trump Tower, the Crown Building on 5th Avenue, Herald Center on 6th Avenue, the No. 200 Madison Avenue Building and the Olympic Towers Condominium on 5th Avenue — despite the reluctance of Aquino.

He said the “disposition of these buildings could not be justified” as the government could have raised the necessary resources to keep them.

At the same time, the outgoing official defended his record at the Commission, a post he held since May 2, 2005 saying under his term, the PCGG were able to recover P28, 296, 956, 719.21, adding that these were already remitted to the National Treasury.

“Another fifty million pesos more was received by the PCGG last Friday, June 25, 2010 and will be remitted soon to the National Treasury. I was also made to understand that another fifty million pesos would be received soon for remittance,” Sabio said.

Cash and proceeds from the recovery of the ill-gotten wealth are remitted to the National Treasury to be used for the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

The PCGG said that from its creation, total cash recovery to date amounted to P85, 640, 020, 867.23 billion. The full amount was already with the National Treasury.

But Sabio and PCGG Commissioner Jaime Bautista both admitted there is still a long-drawn out battle to be done in the coming years, adding that even the Commission don’t even know the exact amount of the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses.

“I really don’t know how much it is still out there,” Sabio said.

Bautista, on the other hand, said their Swiss and American lawyers told them there were accounts in such countries as Austria, Canada, Great Britain and Hong Kong aside from Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the United States still waiting to be recovered.

“But our Swiss lawyers said that we must move soon because the respective national laws on prescription might frustrate our efforts,” Sabio said, adding that in those countries, there were laws proscribing litigation after the case has taken place 30 years.

Both PCGG officials said these could reach trillion based on the information given to them by their Swiss lawyers and other informants.

To enable the Commission to fully fulfill its mandate, Sabio said President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III should allocate more resources to the PCGG when he formally assumes office on June 30.

“PCGG needs more resources, not only money but also personnel. The PCGG has very meager resources compared to its mandate,” the PCGG chair said.

“What we need is full support from the incoming administration and the commitment to finish the fight,” he said.

This year, the PCGG has budget of P90 million. (PNA)

RMA/CLTC

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