January 3, 2014 7:27pm
Singapore’s Court of Appeal ruled in favor of its Supreme Court’s decision to grant over $23 million seized from the estate of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to the Philippine National Bank, ending a four-way dispute over Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth.
The funds, comprised of $16.8 million and GBP4.2 million, form part of Marcos’ illicit fortune stashed in Swiss bank accounts.
The top court, led by Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justices Belinda Ang and Woo Bih Li, effectively junked the claims of the Philippine government, at least five of Marcos’ foundations set up to hold the money in Swiss banks, as well as 9,539 human rights victims under the Marcos regime, a Straits Times article reported Friday.
The court, in the report, said it affirmed the High Court ruling that the PNB held the legal title to the funds as depositor of the money as well as original account holder with WestLB, the Germany-based bank that held the money.
Meanwhile, the appeals court rejected the victims’ claims as the documents it considered did not have the legal effect of transferring any “proprietary interest” in the funds to them.
But the court said this does “not in any way deny the moral claims of the human rights victims and acknowledge that the human rights victims deserve redress for the grievous wrongs that they have suffered,” the report said.
The court also ruled that the Swiss foundations’ entitlment was lost after the Swiss court ordered the money transferred to PNB. The PNB holds the funds in escrow and placed the money in various banks in Singapore and Britain, the report said.
In 2004, WestLB in Singapore sought the court’s decision after four parties claimed to be rightful owners of the Swiss funds.
The Swiss Federal Supreme Court in 1997 issued a decision returning $680 million from Marcos’ Swiss bank deposits to the Philippines pending compliance with two conditions — a final and executory decision of a credible Philippine court declaring the said funds as ill-gotten, and that a rightful share of the funds will given to Martial Law victims who won a class suit in Honolulu court against the Marcos estate.
The first condition was complied with in July 2003 when the Philippine Supreme Court declared the Marcos Swiss funds ill-gotten. The second condition was met when President Benigno Aquino III signed the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 last February.
Under the measure, P10 billion in funds from the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses will be used to pay the victims.
The law also mandates the creation of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission. — Marc Jayson Cayabyab/JDS, GMA News