An official tracing the wealth Ferdinand E. Marcos allegedly plundered during his 20-year rule returned from the United States today and said he had found titles to about $25 million worth of prime Philippine land.
“We have brought home the bacon,” said former Sen. Jovito Salonga, head of the Commission on Good Government created by President Corazon Aquino to track down the wealth soon after Marcos’ Feb. 26 ouster.
Salonga said he also received assurances from U.S. authorities that “in a few months” the new Philippine government will recover hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds that Marcos and his wife allegedly invested in U.S. real estate.
“The long and short of it is that we have accomplished more than (our) limited, short-term objectives,” Salonga said.
Swiss Froze Assets
He noted that during the three weeks he was in the United States, the Swiss government also ordered a freeze on all assets Marcos and his associates may have put in Swiss banks.
With Salonga were commission members Ramon Diaz and Pedro Yap.
Meanwhile, chief government auditor Teofisto Guingona told Aquino at a Cabinet meeting today that former Marcos officials received cash advances from the government worth $160 million.
Presidential spokesman Rene Saguisag gave no further details, and Guingona could not be reached for comment. The official Philippine News Agency said later that Aquino has directed that the officials explain how they used the money.
Salonga told an airport news conference that titles to $25 million in Filipino land were turned over to Diaz in Vancouver, Canada, by Marcos’ close associate Jose Y. Campos, who also gave a statement identifying Marcos’ dummy companies and their holdings. Campos formed and owned the companies, Salonga said.
Diaz said the titles cover about 19,000 acres, including land in a suburban Manila commercial and office center, and along an expressway that Marcos allegedly acquired “dirt cheap” before the highway was constructed in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Diaz said he also was expecting to receive soon titles to about 300 acres of seafront land also allegedly owned by Marcos in nearby Bataan province.
Salonga said his commission plans to file civil suits against Marcos and his associates in the Philippines to recover assets allegedly acquired by them with public funds, but there are no plans to file criminal charges against Marcos.
Salonga said Filipinos in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington and New York turned in documents on “what can only be described as the unprecedented plunder of an entire nation--something that in terms of magnitude and brazenness defies comparison in our history or, indeed, in the history of any nation.”