MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte said an emissary of the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos said they are willing to return some of their wealth to the government.
"The Marcoses, I will not name the spokesman, sabi nila (they said), we'll open everything and hopefully return 'yung mga nakita na talaga (what was found already)," said Duterte on Tuesday, August 29.
Speaking at the mass oath-taking of new appointees, Duterte did not give further details about his meeting with the "spokesman."
The Marcoses supposedly volunteered to return some of their wealth, including a few "gold bars," to help the Duterte administration fund its priority programs. (READ: Recovering Marcos' ill-gotten wealth: After 30 years, what?)
"We are ready to open and bring back, they said, even a few gold bars, Not as much as Fort Knox but just a few. They'll return them," said the President, speaking in a mix of Filipino and English.
The Marcoses supposedly explained that the ousted president had kept the wealth because he planned to return to Malacañang after his exile in Hawaii. (READ: Search for Marcos' wealth: Compromising with cronies)
"The only reason, they said, their father was protecting the economy for the eventual – if he is exiled. But he thought of regaining Malacañang and that is why it looks like they hid it," said Duterte.
He said he would "accept" this explanation, "whether or not it is true."
The President promised to provide an "accounting" of what the Marcoses will return. (READ: Marcos Jr barred return of stolen P1.9 billion – PCGG)
He is considering a former chief justice and two others to take charge of negotiations with the Marcoses. Whoever heads the team, he added, must not be associated with any partisan group.
"I'm looking at a former chief justice. They should be the ones to discuss, then another CPA, and maybe a representative of all that is accepted also by all," Duterte said.
The Duterte administration previously announced it would seek the abolition of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the agency tasked to recover the estimated $10 billion looted by Marcos and his allies.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said this would be part of efforts to streamline the bureaucracy, but critics slammed it as a blow to victims of the Marcos regime. (READ: Duterte gov't not first to propose end of PCGG) – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.