Marcos Took $4.7 Million From One Ministry, Auditor Says
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Deposed President Ferdinand E. Marcos took $4.7 million from one of his ministries during his last month in office, chief government auditor Teofisto Guingona said today.
In a telephone interview, Guingona said discovery of an illegal transfer from the Ministry of Local Governments to Marcos brought to at least $8.5 million the amount auditors have determined is missing from government coffers since they began their efforts a month ago.
His disclosure came as the Commission on Good Government announced the seizure of 34 companies, including banana, coconut and palm oil plantations, owned by two Marcos associates, Antonio Floirendo and Eduardo Cojuangco.
Cojuangco, who once monopolized the Philippine coconut industry, fled to the United States with Marcos when Marcos was ousted after 20 years in power on Feb. 25. Since that time, there has been no word of Floirendo, who made his fortune by raising bananas.
Before the latest takeovers, the commission said it had sequestered about $150 million in assets belonging to Marcos, his family and associates.
President Corazon Aquino, who succeeded Marcos after a civilian-military uprising, created the Commission on Good Government to find ways of recovering up to $10 billion in government funds that Marcos and his associates purportedly plundered and stashed abroad.
In a related development today, Vice President Salvador H. Laurel and Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile heeded a public clamor for officials to declare their assets by releasing financial statements indicating their wealth. Laurel, who is also prime minister and foreign minister in the Aquino government, said in a sworn statement that his net assets totaled about $970,000 after deducting his liabilities from total assets of about $1.8 million.
The statement was published in the newspaper Manila Times and confirmed by his secretary, Cora de la Cruz.
In a press release, Enrile declared total assets amounting to about $1.2 million and ″no liabilities.″
The Commission on Good Government gave no value today for the new confiscations, releasing only a list of 18 companies owned by Floirendo and 16 companies belonging to Cojuangco that were seized as of March 19.
Guingona said Marcos on Feb. 10 signed a receipt for the $4.7 million ″in his personal capacity″ on stationery of former Local Governments Minister Jose Rono.
″But there are no official records of what happened to the funds,″ Guingona said.
″There have been very irregular disbursements of public funds which form a pattern,″ he said. ″We’re in the process of uncovering more but I cannot comment on it until we have full documentation.″
Rono confirmed Marcos took the money and told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that he had protested the move because his ministry needed it for a rural education and entertainment program and he feared ″people might suspect us of wrongdoing.″
But Rono said Marcos insisted, saying he needed the money urgently to fight the communist New People’s Army. Rono said the fund transfers were made between Jan. 27 and Feb. 10.
Asked if Marcos used the money to finance his campaign against Mrs. Aquino in the Feb. 7 presidential election, instead of spending it on anti-insurgency needs, Rono replied, ″That’s his problem, not my problem ... He said he needed the money for an intelligence operation and I took his word for it.″