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Letters to the Editor

Claims of victims, PCGG not in conflict

/ 11:54 PM October 21, 2014

This is in response to a two-part special report written by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, titled “PCGG, Marcos victims in race to claim Imelda art hoard” and “US lawyer says PCGG merely grandstanding” (Front Page, 10/12-13/14).

Publishing a special report about a government agency without getting its side is highly irresponsible and violates the most basic rule of journalism. The articles taint the image of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) with the unwarranted comments and assumptions made by US lawyer Robert Swift on the actions taken to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses. It oversimplifies the complex issues involved in the recovery of ill-gotten wealth that was amassed and the kind of effort it takes to return what was stolen back to the people.  It also seems to suggest that this agency is working against martial law’s human rights victims.

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The claims of the Human Rights Victims and PCGG are not in conflict with each other. The judgement rendered by the US federal grand jury in Hawaii awarding $2 billion to the victims of human rights abuse is exclusively against the Marcos estate, or those assets which Marcos legally acquired. The paintings referred to in the article do not form part of the Marcos estate but, as per judgement of the Sandiganbayan, form part of the Marcos ill-gotten wealth which rightfully belongs to the Republic.

With this reply, we seek to clarify and correct the assumptions and statements made by Swift, specifically regarding the PCGG’s intentions in the recovery of the paintings that rightfully belong to the Filipino people. The commission is concerned that Swift’s statements may be motivated by his intention to collect again millions of dollars in legal fees.

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The commission reiterates its support for human rights victims during the martial law regime, and we manifested this with our strong support for Republic Act No. 10368, which provides for “reparation and recognition of victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime,” as well as for any future bills seeking to heal the wounds caused by the Marcos dictatorship.

—NICK V. SUAREZ,
chief information officer,
Presidential Commission on Good Government

The series was a follow-up to reports on the raids on Marcos residences and PCGG’s search for the Marcos art collection. It was meant to provide balance to PCGG Chair Andres Bautista’s claim that the paintings “are all the property of the country” without him even referring to the search and claim of the thousands of class suit claimants (many old and infirm) who had won a 1995 judgement from a US court that awarded them $2 billion (P90 billion).

—MA. CERES P. DOYO

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TAGS: human rights victims, Marcos dictatorship, marcos estate, PCGG, Robert Swift
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