The Recovery of Marcos Loot - A National Imperative!

by Anonymous
17 February 2004

Our Country's external debt is devouring an ever-increasing portion of the national budget and, correspondingly, depriving our citizens of budgetary allocations to desperately needed public services. In fact, the Government is headed towards a fiscal 'death spiral''burdened with regressively higher cost of borrowing on top of the need to borrow more and less capacity to incur additional debt.

The questions are:

Why aren't any of our presidential candidates harping on the recovery of Marcos' loot, when this is arguably the most important Government initiative that should be pursued with laser focus and intensity'now more than ever?

To what extent is our Government exercising our diplomatic leverage (much the same way the Jewish lobby is flexing their political muscle with the US government vis-'-vis Hitler's loot) in recovering stolen money from 'secret' Swiss bank accounts?

Why hasn't the Philippine Government parleyed on the likes of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), established by the G-7 Summit as far back as 1989, to mount an offensive against the financial institutions that have benefited from the Marcos deposits at the expense of Filipinos? This initiative could substantially increase the Government's recovery (in addition to the recovery of Marcos' loot) by way of damages from such unethical establishments.

And finally: Why isn't the public concerned about their government's foot-dragging on this issue?

* * *

Excerpt from Max V. Soliven's Editorial
The Philippine Star, January 29, 2004

Now that he's gone, Doy Laurel's 'secret' can be revealed. He told a few friends like our long-time jogging partner Babe Romualdez (we then belonged to the 'Makati Road-runners' in our more ambitious days) and myself, how he had been energetically, urgently invited by the deposed Ferdinand Marcos to visit him in Hawaii.

By the time Laurel arrived in Honolulu (from a trip to San Francisco) that August 1989, he found that Marcos was no longer in his Makaki Heights residence, but had been rushed to the St. Francis Hospital in the city. Clearly, Macoy was in extremis.

According to the former Vice President's narrative, Marcos had told him, in a hoarse whisper, that his dearest wish'his 'dying wish''was to be permitted to return to the Philippines, so he could die in his native Batac, Ilocos Norte. Marcos requested Doy to bear his offer directly and exclusively to President Cory C. Aquino herself, and tell nobody else about it. Macoy, Doy said, had pledged to turn over US$5 billion from his 'foundation' to the Philippine Government, if he (Marcos) were allowed to be immediately flown 'home' to the Philippines so he could expire there in peace.

Doy said that when he got back to Manila, he sought a meeting with President Aquino. But Cory, he alleged, absolutely refused to see him. Less than three weeks later, on September 28, 1989, Marcos died in Hawaii.

The return of US$5 billion? Wow. If Doy Laurel had not misunderstood Marcos, and the story is true, Sus, we could have used that money.

Anyway, all that is history now. And we'll never know.

(Read the complete article here.)

* * *

I would beg to disagree with the final statement of Mr. Soliven on the matter of Marcos' loot. Indeed, to start off with 'Anyway''as if to brush off the importance of the issue'is regrettable. To suggest that 'all that is history now''as if the matter is all behind us now'is appalling and, evidently, an indication of the extreme complacency and the extraordinary tolerance of our Society towards criminality! To conclude 'And we'll never know' is far more than insult to injury. Not only have we known all along the real score against Marcos, the matter is now Philippine jurisprudence with the final ruling of the Supreme Court. It falls short of the Constitution stating:

'Marcos was a crook of the worst kind. He plundered the coffers of the National Treasury and instituted corruption in Government to unprecedented heights. The recovery of his ill-gotten wealth will remain a National Priority until every centavo is accounted for. Marcos and his heirs will be punished for plunder and will be memorialized in history as Traitors of the Nation.'

Based on a nominal annual compounded return of eight percent (8%), US$5 billion in 1989 would be about US$16 billion today (2004). Marcos was no pushover. He would not offer to return US$5 billion in 1989 unless he had much more than that amount in his possession. Assuming he was magnanimous enough to share his ill-gotten wealth 50/50, then it would not be far-fetched to conclude that he had about US$10 billion stashed away in 1989. Again, based on a nominal annual compounded return of eight percent (8%), US$10 billion in 1989 would be about US$32 billion today (2004). This amount could retire approximately half of the Country's external debt, which is in excess of US$60 billion today.

Imagine the benefits of reducing our Country's external debt to half of what it is today. We wouldn't have to pay as much for debt servicing. We would be able to allocate more funds for public services. The Government's balance sheet would be less pathetic and our sovereign credit rating may even jump to investment grade, thereby lowering our cost of borrowing. This is the 'break' we desperately need towards a fiscal 'growth spiral'.

Clearly, the recent success of the Philippine Government in recovering US$684 million of Marcos' loot, while commendable, is only the tip of the iceberg'just over two percent (2%) of the US$32 billion we ought to be recovering today. This would not even include the damages that the Philippine Government should collect from those criminal financial institutions that harbored the Marcos deposits all these years.

The issue of the Marcos loot is not quite history. It is especially relevant today. The recovery of US$684 million should only be the beginning of a far more aggressive recovery campaign going forward. Any Administration that does not prioritize the recovery of the substantial remainder of Marcos' loot would be utterly negligent.

Being happy with US$684 million when there is still billions out there is just another example of the culture of mediocrity that rules the Filipino's destiny.

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