Philippines loses bid to recover millions from estate of former dictator Marcos

A Philippine court sentenced Imelda Marcos to at least six years in prison for each of the seven charges that the family funnelled roughly $200 million of embezzled funds through Swiss foundations decades ago. (File/AFP)
Updated 25 October 2019

Philippines loses bid to recover millions from estate of former dictator Marcos

  • The evidence was mostly poor quality photocopies
  • A bloodless “people power” revolt caused Marcos to seek exile in US in 1986

MANILA: The Philippine government has lost a decades-old legal effort to seize millions of dollars from the estate of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, a court said Friday, accusing state prosecutors of failing to produce admissible evidence.
Lawyers had submitted “defective” evidence consisting mostly of poor-quality photocopies, some of which were no longer readable, Justice Alex Quiroz of a special anti-graft court said in a release of the October 14 decision.
The ruling was another blow to efforts to recover the late dictator’s alleged ill-gotten wealth after the court also ruled in favor of Marcos’s estate on another multi-million-dollar case in September.
After a bloodless “people power” revolt chased Marcos into US exile in 1986, the Philippines launched a global bid to recover at least $10 billion in assets that the Marcoses and their cronies acquired using funds allegedly stolen from state coffers over his 20-year rule.
It has recovered 172.6 billion pesos ($3.4 billion at current market rates) so far, according to the government agency tasked with tracking down the assets.
A lawyer for the Marcos family declined to comment, while President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo said his government does not interfere with the courts.
The office of the Ombudsman that handles hidden wealth cases did not respond to an AFP request for comment.
About a dozen forfeiture cases against the Marcoses have yet to be resolved.
The heirs returned to the Philippines after the patriarch died in exile in Hawaii in 1989, later getting themselves elected to congressional seats and local posts.
Rodrigo Duterte’s election in 2016 cemented their comeback as the government gave the ex-president’s remains a hero’s burial and publicly floated the idea of winding down the hunt for his hidden wealth.
“We all know that the Duterte government is very hospitable, to say the least, to the Marcoses,” said Bonifacio Ilagan, one of thousands imprisoned during the dictator’s rule and now spokesman of a citizens coalition seeking to prevent the Marcoses from regaining the Philippine presidency.
In a rare legal setback last year, a court sentenced Imelda Marcos to at least six years in prison for each of the seven charges that the family funnelled roughly $200 million of embezzled funds through Swiss foundations decades ago.
However, she remains free on bail after filing an appeal with the Supreme Court.

Indian Muslims in riot-hit Delhi slam govt for inaction

Updated 27 February 2020

Indian Muslims in riot-hit Delhi slam govt for inaction

  • Indian PM Modi appeals for calm as death toll from violence rises to 27

NEW DELHI: Sadaqat has been trying to collect the body of his shooting-victim brother from a New Delhi hospital since Tuesday.

The 26-year-old, who arrived to work in the Indian capital a few weeks ago, said on Wednesday he was afraid to seek help from police who have been struggling to contain violence over a new citizenship law which has resulted in scores of deaths, mostly among Muslims.

“The hospital is refusing to hand over my brother’s dead body even after 24 hours,” he told Arab News. “No one is there to help me. I am scared to reach out to police also. I am so scared that I don’t want to go to my house for fear of violence. Yesterday, I took refuge at my relative’s house in another part of Delhi.”

Sadaqat claimed his younger brother, Mubarak, was returning to his rented house in the Maujpur area of northeast Delhi, when a Hindu mob shot him dead.

On Wednesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed for calm. According to media reports, violent clashes in the city have claimed 27 lives since Sunday evening, although the unofficial death toll has been put at more than three dozen. The neighborhoods of Maujpur, Mustafabad, Jaffrabad and Shiv Vihar are said to be in the grip of fear.

“I am planning to leave for Jaipur and stay there until the situation becomes normal. I have never seen this kind of violence in my life,” said 30-year-old garment seller Sharukh.

“My neighbor’s son was injured in the violence, but he is scared to go to the police and report it. He also doesn’t want to go to hospital. We have lost our trust,” he added.

Trouble started when a Hindu mob attacked Muslims protesting in Jaffrabad against the citizenship law that provides fast-track naturalization for some foreign-born religious minorities but not Muslims. As clashes spread, several mosques were damaged, and numerous shops and houses belonging to Muslims were burned down.

India has been rocked by violence since the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed in December last year. The legislation is seen by many as anti-Muslim and has raised concerns that when the Indian government goes ahead with its National Register of Citizens (NRC), many from the Muslim minority population will be rendered stateless.

Delhi-based social activist, Nadeem Khan, told Arab News: “There is a sense of helplessness among Muslims now. They don’t have the resources to fight the government. They were already at the receiving end of the CAA and NRC, and this violence further marginalizes the community in their own land.”

In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Modi said: “Peace and harmony are central to our ethos. I appeal to my sisters and brothers of Delhi to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times.

“It is important that there is calm, and normalcy is restored at the earliest. Police and other agencies are working on the ground to ensure peace and normalcy.”

The premier’s statement came after the opposition Congress Party questioned the government’s silence on the violence in Delhi and demanded the resignation of Modi’s right-hand man, Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah.

During a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday, Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, said: “The central government, including the home minister, is responsible. The Congress party demands that he resigns immediately.”

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar responded to Gandhi’s statement by calling it “unfortunate and condemnable,” and blaming her for “politicizing the violence.”

He said: “At such times all parties should ensure that peace is maintained, blaming the government instead is dirty politics.”

Meanwhile, the High Court of Delhi on Wednesday called for legal action against those who incited violence and requested “the filing of cases of those who made hate speeches.”

Political analyst Prof. Apoorvanand, of the University of Delhi, told Arab News: “The BJP’s (Bharatiya Janata Party) hate campaign and the vilification of the Muslim protesters in the last few months has resulted in the violence.

“No one is willing to take Modi’s words for calm at face value. The violence was state-sponsored. The violence sent a message to Muslims that they are helpless, and the state cannot help you,” he added.