The Daily Tribune News – Congressional immunity for Marcoses faces constitutional obstacle

Reference:
Manalo, C., Baldo, G. & Rosales, A.M. (2017, September 7). Congressional immunity for Marcoses faces constitutional obstacle. The Daily Tribune – Without Fear or Favor. Retrieved September 7, 2017 from http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/congressional-immunity-for-marcoses-faces-constitutional-obstacle

Congressional immunity for Marcoses faces constitutional obstacle
Written by  Tribune Wires
Thursday, 07 September 2017

A member of the House Minority bloc with whom Marcos matriarch, Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, reportedly confided in on the existence of her family-owned “7,000 tons of gold” revealed all-out support for the enactment of a measure which would grant the family of the late President Ferdinand Marcos immunity from all possible suits related to their alleged ill-gotten wealth in exchange for the turnover of substantial amount of gold to the government, his colleagues said this could be face a constitutional challenge, especially from the critics of the former First Family.

At a press briefing, Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Buhay partylist Rep. Lito Atienza expressed support for a proposed compromise agreement that President Rodrigo Duterte and the Marcos family might reach in order to end the long-drawn court battle and allow government to recover the hoard of illegally acquired wealth, including 7,000 tons of gold.Atienza said the information that the Marcos family is holding the treasure that could be worth trillions of pesos was personally relayed to him by Mrs. Marcos.“I believe we should grab the opportunity because the President no less took interest on it and there is an admission now that they are willing to settle,” he added.

“Rather than put road blocks, let’s try to look for ways to do it. I will support any congressional action on this and I will ask the First Lady to confirm because nobody believes it,” Atienza stressed.But Assistant Minority Leaders Harry Roque (Kabayan) and Alfredo Garbin (Ako Bicol) said Congress must first address constitutional issues that might be raised against Mr. Duterte’s proposed grant of amnesty before passing any legislation to support it.“The constitutional basis for objecting to that law is equal protection of the law because that would be a class legislation that will benefit only the Marcoses,” Roque explained.He pointed out that this can be cured if the grant of amnesty will be offered to everyone who will admit to the crime of graft and corruption and return the stolen wealth to government.“Make it applicable to all who want to confess and within a period. I might support it but there are already many challenges against it,” he added. Garbin stressed Congress is barred from passing an “irrepealable” law as what the President appeared to have suggested.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, head of the independent bloc, for his part, rejected Mr. Duterte’s proposal.“A culprit who returns what he has stolen is not liberated from criminal prosecution,” he noted.Akbayan partylist Rep. Tom Villarin said enacting a law giving immunity to the Marcoses would give a wrong signal that committing a crime will pay off in the end as justice is negotiable by the powers that be.“The irony is that not a single individual from the Marcoses and their cronies have been put to jail and finally through legislative fiat theirs sins are extinguished and family names polished without a blemish,” he added. Villarin explained that returning all the ill-gotten wealth without acknowledging their crimes against the Filipino people nor would they be punished for it will not put closure to the dark days of dictatorship and martial rule.

“The premise laid by President Duterte that he ‘accepts’ the explanation by the Marcoses that the wealth was not ill-gotten as they just held it in trust for us is a gross distortion of law and history,” Villarin stressed.Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, meanwhile, described Mr. Duterte’s move as “a crazy idea that is not in any of Philippine legal principles.”“For example, state witness immunity is usually reserved for the least guilty. Here, the persons to be immunized are the direct perpetrators or conspirators at the least. And now that they admit having stolen wealth from the people and managed to stash it away despite massive government efforts to recover, they are also obstructors of justice,” he noted.Atienza, however, had clarified that in the course of his conversation with Mrs.

Marcos, it was made clear that the family refused to admit the gold it would want to share with the government is ill-gotten or stolen. Compromise dealsA senator, meanwhile, said the government can enter into an agreement with the Marcos family for the return of the alleged ill-gotten wealth without waiting for Congress to act on the matter.“The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), under the law and existing jurisprudence, is authorized to enter into compromise agreements,” according to Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon. He made the statement in response to questions by the media as to whether PCGG can enter into compromise agreements for recovery of any ill-gotten wealth.“Under the law, the PCGG is mandated to assist the President in the recovery of ill-gotten wealth,” he stressed.

“In pursuit of its mandate, the PCGG can legally enter into compromise agreements,” Drilon explained.
The compromise, he said, should be “limited only to civil cases” as in the forfeiture of ill-gotten wealth.
Drilon, however, clarified that while there is clear jurisprudence establishing PCGG’s authority to enter into such agreements, the validity of the stipulations in the compromise agreement must pass judicial scrutiny.

Published in Headlines | The Daily Tribune – Without Fear or Favor. 

 

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