Philippines says Marcos jewels to remain with govt
The Philippines has said jewellery worth 310 million dollars confiscated from former first lady Imelda Marcos would remain under lock and key in the government's control.
Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera met Tuesday with officials from the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and reviewed the case after her predecessor suggested that Marcos was the rightful owner of the jewels.
Devanadera, speaking after the talks, told reporters that the collection was considered part of the Marcos family's stolen wealth and remained the subject of a civil forfeiture case pending in an anti-graft court ruling.
"The Supreme Court has said that any property that is well and beyond the legitimate income of president Marcos are considered ill-gotten wealth," she said.
The PCGG was set up shortly after late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, his family and cronies were forced to flee the country in 1986 in the wake of massive street protests and a military revolt.
Devanadera said the collection was covered under one of many unresolved civil cases filed against Imelda Marcos and her family, and therefore would not be turned over to the former first lady without a court ruling.
Asked whether the government intended to return the jewels, she said: "No."
Imelda Marcos, known worldwide for her vast collection of shoes that symbolized her wasteful and flamboyant lifestyle, said Monday that the collection included personal pieces and religious images.
She said she was hopeful of having the collection returned after 23 years.
She was speaking shortly after Devanadera's predecessor, Raul Gonzalez, issued a legal opinion in which he said that Imelda evidently "remains to be the legitimate owner of the prized jewelleries."
It was not clear why Gonzalez, who was earlier removed from the justice department after a five year stint, issued the legal opinion and he was not available for comment Tuesday.
Two sets of jewellery were abandoned by the Marcos family when they fled.
The Marcos children are back in power in the family's northern heartland, but Imelda Marcos failed in a 1992 presidential bid.
She has challenged government plans to auction off the collection and has demanded their return but in May the PCGG said the jewellery would be auctioned.