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Government Begins Hearing on Graft Charges against Marcos

September 1, 1986

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ A lawyer told a government commission Monday that former President Ferdinand E. Marcos and his wife Imelda created foundations to hide vast amounts of wealth acquired during 20 years in power.

President Corazon Aquino’s government has accused the Marcoses and their associates of plundering up to $10 billion from the Philippines before fleeing Feb. 26.

Eduardo Montenegro, assistant solicitor general, told the Commission on Good Government that President and Mrs. Marcos formed the foundations in 1968.

Montenegro said the total of funds deposited in Swiss banks by at least six foundations still had not been determined. Government documents released previously indicated the Marcoses had deposits of at least $229 million in Swiss banks and other accounts.

″When you use a foundation, your name will no longer appear in all accounts made in that foundation,″ Montenegro told reporters after a 1 1/2 -hour hearing by the commission.

In response to a commissioner’s question, Montenegro said the foundations were not charitable but appeared to be organized for business purposes. He did not elaborate.

Most bank account numbers Montenegro cited used only the number seven, such as 77 and 777. When a commissioner asked why, Montenegro replied: ″All I can say, your honor, is that the former president considered seven as his lucky number.″

According to Montenegro, the records were found in the Malacanang presidential palace after a military-civilian revolt drove Marcos from office. Documents made available previously indicated some of the $229 million was deposited in a Swiss account for the Sandy Foundation that the government has connected to Marcos.

The commission, the government’s chief anti-graft body, has the power to bring charges in court against Marcos and his associates if it deems Montenegro’s evidence sifficient.

Montenegro said more documents would be presented at future hearings.

Rafael Rector, attorney for the former president, did not attend the session Monday.

In another development, the Justice Ministry ordered charges dropped against Arturo Tolentino, Marcos’ running mate in the fraud-tainted Feb. 7 presidential election, and 25 other civilians who seized a downtown hotel July 6-8 in a brief rebellion.

Similar charges against four generals and six other military men who joined the unsuccessful revolt were withdrawn earlier.

″The Cory (Aquino) government has taken another step in the long and difficult road to peace and reconciliation,″ Justice Minister Neptali Gonzales said in a statement.

He ordered the case dropped because Tolentino and the others had complied ″with the condition for clemency″ Mrs. Aquino set.

She promised amnesty for the rebellious Marcos supporters if they swore allegiance to the temporary constitution she proclaimed after assuming power. A commission she appointed is writing a new charter, which will be submitted to a referendum.

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