Marcos-Romualdez Families Should Surrender the Ill-Gotten Wealth to Reconstruct Leyte
Dissecting the Marcos-Romualdez playbook
by Andrew Lim
THE MARCOSES AND ROMUALDEZES ARE NOT LIKE YOU AND ME
Story from Tacloban : When Mayor Romualdez hears a constituent tell a sad tale of losing his house, he tells them he lost two houses. When people report of losing a car to the flood, he counters that he lost seven cars. (source: Land of the Mourning by Patricia Evangelista, Esquire Magazine, pp123-124, Dec 2013 issue)
Of course the mayor’s intent is to say that he shares in their loss, and that he, too is a victim. But sharp observers will note that those statements remind you to paraphrase what F Scott Fitzgerald said, that the mayor is not like you and me.
As of this writing, two pieces of good news on the Marcos/Romualdez ill- gotten wealth recovery effort:
- The conviction of Vilma Bautista, former secretary of Imelda Marcos in New York City, for tax fraud and conspiracy charges related to the sale of four paintings, including a Monet which netted her $32M. (GMA News Online, Jan 15, 2014.)
- Sandiganbayan rules that the “Malacanang Collection”, a set of jewelry owned by Imelda Marcos was ill-gotten and can be auctioned by the govt and is estimated to go for $8.5M. (Inquirer.net, Jan 15, 2014)
Through the years, the PCGG (Presidential Commission on Good Government) has been engaged in a protracted battle with the Marcos-Romualdez families to recover their ill-gotten wealth. The late Alfredo Bejo Romualdez, a brother of Imelda and father of the incumbent mayor Alfred, was facing a forfeiture case for accounts and securities deposted in two Swiss accounts, despite having a net worth and source of income far below these amounts. One of the accounts had 12.5M Swiss francs in 1985. (Inquirer.net, PCGG targets Bejo Romualdez’Swiss bank accounts, May 5, 2012.)
REHAB FUNDS INADEQUATE
Rehab czar Panfilo Lacson and many others have noted that the amounts collected and pledged for the recovery of the affected areas will not be sufficient. (Lacson: Yolanda Rehab budget not enough, Rappler, Dec 17, 2013/ Abad: No extra money for Tacloban, Rappler, Jan 11, 2014) An estimated P130-200B is needed.
Which brings me to my argument: The Filipino people should pressure the Marcos-Romualdez families to return the ill-gotten wealth voluntarily, and use it for the rehabilitation of Tacloban and Eastern Visayas.
Estimates of the entire ill gotten wealth range from $5-10B, according to the PCGG. Only a fraction of that has been returned. The Monet painting sold for $32M previously discussed would have brought in P1.4B. And that’s just one piece!
Of course, this is now the subject of litigation, and the Marcos-Romualdez families with their supporters would argue that they are not ill -gotten, unless rulings have been handed down.
But the Filipino people know this well enough: their salaries as public officials during the reign of Ferdinand, and their declared investments and businesses, do not account for the immense wealth they accumulated. How else could they have funded their resurgent political careers?
Post- EDSA 86 revolution and post-ouster of Ferdinand Marcos, they have been patiently rebuilding the brand name: Congressman Martin for Tacloban, Mayor Alfred for Tacloban, Governor Imee for Ilocos. The former First Lady had served as Congressman for Leyte. Bongbong, now Senator, could be eyeing the presidency.
Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez is best known for owning up to footing the bill for that infamous Le Cirque meal for Gloria Arroyo and her entourage that cost P1M in 2009.
A local daily, the Manila Standard, was bought by a group led by Martin Romualdez from tycoon Ricky Razon, ostensibly to help in propaganda work. (Inquirer.net, April 16, 2010) No wonder two of the most vociferous columnist attack dogs notorious for fabricating “sources in Malacanag” write for this paper.
This author believes that if the Filipino people express loudly enough this call for the Marcos and Romualdez families to return the ill-gotten wealth then it could pave the way for genuine reconciliation, one that is founded on justice and not “forgive and forget, and let’s move on” which many pro-Marcos as well as Catholic prelates favor.
Imelda Marcos is in her 80s and has been going in and out of the hospital. She is near the end of her mortal life, and the Filipino people should remind her and her family that she cannot take it with her. She should do good by the Filipino people, many of whom are her kababayans in Leyte.
She should be reminded that there are no motions for reconsideration, no delays and all judgments are final and executory when facing the Ultimate Judge. There are no Estelito Mendozas in the afterlife, because they are all busy fanning themselves from the heat.