MANILA — Malacañang on Monday called on legislators to authorize President Rodrigo Duterte to negotiate for the return of the Marcos wealth to the Philippine government.
In a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that “as the President has promised, this entire negotiation will be done professionally and transparently, with a full accounting to the people, and especially, authority from the Congress.”
“We, therefore, urge Congress to authorize the President to proceed with negotiations and set parameters taking into account concerns raised by critics and the citizenry. It would be best if we all work together for final justice, closure, and national reconciliation,” Abella said.
On August 29, Duterte said that he was approached by a representative of the family of former president Ferdinand Marcos over their willingness to “open everything” and “return” to the Philippine government some wealth in question, including a few gold bars.
The President said then that because of the complexities of the issue, he was trying to look for someone not identified with anybody to handle the negotiations.
Last Saturday, Duterte said that the negotiations would require many stages and would need the approval of Congress for the deal to proceed.
In the meantime, Abella said that the Palace is not taking any stand regarding the explanation proffered by the Marcoses over the ‘hidden wealth.”
“The President has said that he will accept however they explain it. So we’re not taking a stand regarding it. He is speaking like a lawyer and accepts what the other party is saying,” the Palace official said.
Earlier, the Chief Executive said the Marcoses have explained that the late strongman supposedly kept the wealth “in order to protect the economy.”
“I will accept the explanation, whether or not it is true, wala na eh. And they are ready to return. How much, they would give me an accounting,” Duterte has said.
However, Abella clarified that President Duterte is leaving it up to Congress to set the proper parameters on what to term the Marcos wealth.
“We defer to the statement of the President that it will have to be referred to Congress. The final word will have to come from Congress,” Abella said.