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Imelda Offers $5 Million for Philippines Earthquake Relief

July 25, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ Imelda Marcos would donate about $5 million for earthquake relief in the Philippines if the Manila government and U.S. officials release funds frozen by the courts, her lawyer said Wednesday.

James Linn, an Oklahoma City attorney representing the former Philippine first lady, said the offer was made several days ago and ″we’re waiting for an answer from Manila.″

Tambi Wycoco, a spokesman for the Philippines Consulate here, said he’d heard ″rumors″ of the offer ″but we’ve seen nothing on it.″

″Of course if she offered ... it would be accepted,″ he said. ″There are some in the community who say it would be her way of returning the money. Later she can say she gave back $5 million.″

Linn said Mrs. Marcos spoke by telephone with Vice President Salvador Laurel in Manila about the proposed donation.

Laurel has split politically with President Corazon Aquino, with whom he rose to power in the February 1986 popular revolt that ousted Mrs. Marcos’ husband, the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

The proposed donation, of 100 million Philippine pesos, would require the approval of Mrs. Aquino’s government and a U.S. court, which froze the Marcoses’ assets after they were driven into Hawaiian exile.

Philippines officials said on Wednesday that the toll now stands at more than 1,600 killed, 3,000 injured and 90,000 left homeless by the quake that struck the northern main island of Luzon a week ago.

The disaster has created another financial crisis for the Aquino government, already burdened by a $26 billion foreign debt.

Linn said Mrs. Marcos’ offer was ″just a humanitarian gesture, with no strings attached.″

Some of the Marcos assets frozen by the 1986 court order are in Swiss banks and some in Hong Kong, said Linn. He would not estimate how much money was involved.

He said the request for a court order releasing the funds would be put to U.S. officials later this week.

Mrs. Marcos was acquitted here earlier this month of federal fraud, racketeering and obstruction charges in the alleged theft of more than $220 million from the Philippines treasury during Marcos’ 20-year rule.

Still pending are a series of civil lawsuits filed by the Aquino government, which is still trying to recover the money.

In addition, the 61-year-old Mrs. Marcos has been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh investigating dealings between the Westinghouse Electric Corp. and Marcos concerning a nuclear power plant the company built in the Philippines in the early 1980s.

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