Justices Resign In Anti-Marcos Purge, Protests Continue
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ The head of a commission charged with recovering any wealth illegally accumulated by deposed President Ferdinand E. Marcos said today that up to $10 billion may be missing from the treasury and enterprises controlled by Marcos’ associates and relatives.
Jovito R. Salonga, chairman of a Commission on Good Government established by new President Corazon Aquino, told a news conference that ″maybe $5 billion to $10 billion″ in assets was missing.
By comparison, the Philippine budget in 1985 was only about $3.3 billion. Salonga did not elaborate on what assets were missing or what was believed to have happened to them.
Also today, justices of the country’s second-highest court, the Court of Appeals, submitted their resignations, and the official Philippine News Agency said at least five of the Supreme Court’s 12 members also quit.
Mrs. Aquino urged the justices, all appointed by Marcos, to step down.
Justice Minister Neptali Gonzales said Court of Appeals Justice Ramon Gaviola met with Mrs. Aquino to submit 18 resignations and assured her all of the court’s 38 justices would step down.
But presidential spokesman Rene Saguisag said no resignations have been received from the Supreme Court.
In setting up the Commission on Good Government, Mrs. Aquino charged it with recovering ″all ill-gotten wealth″ accumulated by Marcos and his friends and relatives, ″including the takeover or sequestration of all business enteprises and entities owned or controlled by them during his administration ... by taking undue advantage of their powers.″
Marcos has been reported to own real estate worth millions of dollars in New York and Britain. When he fled to Hawaii last Wednesday, he brought 22 crates believed to contain cash and valuables, including more than $1.1 million worth of Philippine currency.
Attorneys for the Philippines’ Central Bank said Monday they will receive an inventory of the crates’ contents from the U.S. Customs Service. The bank has filed a suit in Honolulu charging that Marcos and his entourage of about 90 Filipinos took money illegally from the country when they fled in the face of a military rebellion.
Salonga also said documents found in Malacanang Palace after Marcos left confirm reports that he owned property in New York.
″Those documents link the (Marcos) cronies and business associates with the acquisition of property for and in the name of Mr. Marcos. Those documents will be in due time be produced in courts of justice, specifically before the New York court,″ Salonga said.
Lawyers for the Philippine government on Sunday obtained a court order in New York temporarily barring the sale or transfer of five properties allegedly owned or controlled by Marcos, including a Long Island estate.
Salonga said the government would seize the Manila Electric Co., which was taken over by relatives of Marcos’ wife, Imelda, under a legal pretext during martial law in 1972. He did not specify whether the company would be returned to its former owners.
Salonga said his commission is looking for evidence of ″anything acquired from public funds ... wealth that cannot be explained because it goes well beyond the income of the individual.″
As president, Marcos’ annual salary was about $5,000. In denying charges of corruption, he always said whatever wealth he had came from his lucrative law practice before becoming president.
Salonga said his investigation was likely to involve legal action in the United States, Latin America, Switzerland and Britain. ″We understand there are deposits in Brazilian banks,″ he said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of supporters of Vice Mayor Johnny Wilson of the Manila financial district of Makati demonstrated today against the Aquino government’s appointment of Jejomar Binay as ″officer in charge″ following the death of Makati Mayor Nemesio Yabut.
The protest was one of several against Mrs. Aquino’s moves to oust Marcos supporters from both local and national government.
Manila-area demonstrations Monday included 500 people in Quezon City demanding retention of Mayor Adelina Rodriguez and 1,000 in Caloocan in support of Mayor Macario Asiastio. There also were demonstrations in Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela, Pasig, Muntinlupa, Las Pinas and San Juan. Several other protests were reported outside the Manila area.
Mrs. Aquino said in an interview with The Associated Press that some officials were being replaced because they had used terrorism to intimidate voters in the fraud-tainted Feb. 7 presidential election.
″In those areas where killings had indeed occurred and where the mayor or governor and his men were still terrorizing people, then it was urgently needed to make some changes,″ she said.
Aquilino Pimentel, the new minister of local government, told the AP fewer than 10 mayors had been fired, but that more dismissals were forthcoming.
Pimentel said he would prefer local officials be elected but ″practical considerations″ prevented that.