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Marcos Widow to Pay $2 Million to Families of Slain Activists

May 21, 1991

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The families of two union activists killed in 1981 by men linked to supporters of the late Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos were granted $2 million from Marcos’ widow.

The amount will settle a $15.1 million civil judgment ordered in December 1989 against Imelda Marcos and the estate of her late husband, said James Douglas, the attorney for relatives of the activists.

The suit was brought by the families of Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes, who were fatally shot June 1, 1981, in the Seattle offices of the Alaska Cannery Workers Union. In addition to being reformers of the union, Domingo and Viernes were prominent among activists opposing Marcos’ martial-law regime.

″We feel good about it,″ Terry Mast, Domingo’s widow, said of the Monday settlement. She said the families agreed to the lower amount because they felt it would take years to get anything more.

The Domingo and Viernes families argued in court that the pair were murdered on orders from Manila because of their anti-Marcos activities. Marcos was ousted in February 1986 and he died in exile in Hawaii.

The payment of $2 million was approved by U.S. District Judge Mariana R. Pfaelzer of Los Angeles.

None of the money was to come from Marcos family assets, which have been frozen for five years under a court order issued by Pfaelzer pending the resolution of a Philippine government lawsuit charging the Marcoses with looting their country.

Under terms of the civil settlement, Mrs. Marcos must seek Pfaelzer’s approval for any large transactions, including a loan. Lawyers said Mrs. Marcos would borrow the $2 million, but her attorney, Bernard Simons, wouldn’t say who was lending her the money.

Tony Baruso, president of the cannery local of the International Longshoremen’s & Warehousemen’s Union in Seattle and longtime Marcos ally, was convicted in March of arranging Viernes’ slaying to stifle dissent against Marcos. Baruso was acquitted in Domingo’s slaying.

Still pending in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is an appeal by Dr. Leonilo Malabed of San Francisco. Malabed was ordered to pay more than $8 million to the families of Domingo and Viernes for his part in the payoff of hit men who killed the two men.

Malabed allegedly ran a slush fund for Marcos, paying for ″security projects″ against Marcos opponents in the United States.

Three Filipino gang members were convicted a decade ago of murder in the case.

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