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Where the money comes from

/ 05:28 AM September 01, 2017

When the seven women who were eventually tagged as the “Formidable Seven” or F7 announced their goal to raise money to help Vice President Leni
Robredo meet her share of the P7.4 million required for her election counterprotest, I wished them well. This, even if I was kind of skeptical about their chances of raising the needed amount.

Called “Piso para sa Laban ni Leni,” the campaign was envisioned as a small-time “peso by peso” fund-raising effort, symbolized by bottles to be circulated among ordinary citizens to drop their peso coins in. I wondered how the women could raise the millions demanded by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal within the deadline it had set, given that Bongbong Marcos, who lost the vice presidential contest, effortlessly raised a much larger amount by counting on a few “friends” to lend him the money.

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Well, what do you know? In just nearly three months, coming in trickles and more substantial amounts from people who said they believed in VP Leni and wanted to protect and defend their votes for her, the “Piso para sa Laban ni Leni” has, much to most everyone’s astonishment, met the goal!

Yesterday the F7 announced that the campaign had raised P7,442,859.34, or slightly more than the amount required by the PET as the Vice President’s share of the protest expenses.

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The trouble is that, without providing a more detailed explanation, the Supreme Court, sitting as the PET, rejected the F7’s motion to remit the amount they raised directly to the body. A motion for reconsideration has been filed with the PET, asking that it change its ruling, considering that more than 25,000 people from all walks of life helped raise the money as an expression of their determination to protect their votes.

If the “MR” is still rejected, the fund-raisers have said that the amount would be donated instead to Angat Buhay, a program under the Office of the Vice President “geared towards raising the quality of life of every Filipino family.” None of the money raised would pass through the VP’s hands.

In the last few days, Filipinos have been given a glimpse into the finances of Marcos, which may explain how he was readily able to raise more than P66 million for his election protest.

No less than President Digong himself disclosed the other day that the Marcos family was willing to return “part” of its wealth, including gold bars, to help government finances. This came as a surprise, at least to this columnist, since the Marcoses have consistently denied they had any “hidden wealth,” resisting all attempts by the government to recover the money, stocks, jewelry, artworks and property they managed to salt away in foreign banks or carry with them in suitcases or crates when they fled to Hawaii in February 1986.

To this day Marcos loyalists deny that any such large-scale thievery took place, even as foreign courts have remitted in favor of the Philippine government money recovered from the dictator’s heirs. So where did the Marcos family members get the money they are now supposedly willing to “donate” to the government? And what motivated them to “come clean” now?

Survivors of martial law, as well as a growing number of officials, are right to question the Duterte administration’s seeming willingness to just take the money, no questions asked.

First, what right do the Marcoses have to decide how they will pay back the money they stole? Shouldn’t they instead be made to face the music and turn over their hidden wealth in full, and pay the requisite taxes and interest? Should we just genuflect in gratitude and allow them to get off without any penalty or prison time?

Given the ongoing electoral dispute, and proof of the still-substantial wealth in Marcos hands, could this be the emerging picture of how the siblings Bongbong and Imee—with the blessings of their mother Imelda—are planning a Marcos restoration to power? Pay off the magistrates who will decide in Bongbong’s favor, putting him a heartbeat away from the presidency? Gather more congressmen to support the impeachment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno? And blind President Digong with the glint of gold bars and the scent of money stolen from the people?

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TAGS: “Formidable Seven” or F7, “Piso para sa Laban ni Leni”, Vice President Leni Robredo
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