By DAVID K. SHIPLER, Special to the New York Times
Published: March 15, 1986
WASHINGTON, March 14— Ferdinand E. Marcos’s tax returns show that he was not a wealthy man before becoming President of the Philippines 20 years ago, the head of a Philippine Government commission said today.
The official, Jovito R. Salonga, chairman of the commission investigating Mr. Marcos’s financial affairs, said in an interview here that in 1966, Mr. Marcos’s first year as President, the Philippine leader put his assets at approximately $30,000; Philippine investigators believe he is worth more than $5 billion today.
Mr. Salonga, who arrived in Washington Thursday night, said he had brought copies of the tax returns with him from Manila to show to United States Government officials. He acknowledged the possibility that Mr. Marcos had understated his income and assets. But he noted that since Mr. Marcos had filed the statements himself, he could not now claim to have made his money before taking office, as President Reagan recently asserted.
Mr. Reagan declared last week, ”The information that I have always had was that while his salary was extremely modest as President of his country, and obviously could not have ever made him wealthy, the information I’ve always had was that he was a millionaire before he took office, and so that there probably is some wealth that is his legitimately by way of investments over all these 20 years.”
Based on that remark, Mr. Salonga expressed some uncertainty about how much cooperation he could expect from the Reagan Administration. ”I do not know how to describe this kind of attitude on the part of the American Government,” he said.
He added that State Department officials with whom he met today – John C. Monjo, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and John F. Maisto, head of the Philippine desk – had promised to help him get an inventory of 1,500 documents belonging to Mr. Marcos, and he praised their willingness to cooperate.
The documents and a large amount of freshly printed Philippine currency were taken to Hawaii when Mr. Marcos fled the Philippines last month and have been impounded by the United States Customs Service.
A Federal District Court in Honolulu issued a temporary restraining order Thursday barring release of the documents for 10 days, except as required by law, treaty or subpoena. A request for a similar injunction has been made to the Court of International Trade in New York.
Representative Stephen J. Solarz, Democrat of Brooklyn, said today that the documents would be subpoenaed, if necessary, by his House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, which has been conducting its own investigation into Mr. Marcos’s wealth. Mr. Salonga and Mr. Solarz agreed to cooperate in their investigations of Mr. Marcos’s financial holdings.
According to Mr. Salonga, Mr. Marcos’s 1960 tax return listed a gross income of 33,917 pesos, equivalent at that time to about $17,000. His net income was put at 9,975 pesos ($5,000), and he paid a total tax of 178.52 pesos ($90.00). In 1966, the first year of his presidency, Mr. Marcos declared his assets as 120,000 pesos, then equivalent to $30,000, Mr. Salonga said. The tax return he filed in 1966 showed a gross income of 266,000 pesos ($66,500), a net income of 250,000 pesos ($62,500) and a tax paid of 70,171 pesos ($17,500), according to Mr. Salonga’s figures.
Mr. Salonga said that the Philippine Government had no interest in the personal valuables taken by the Marcos family from the Philippines to Hawaii. But he said the Government would try to recover the boxes of Philippine currency, amounting to more than $1 million. ”This is clearly loot belonging to the Philippine Government,” he declared.