Operation Big Bird

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"Operation Big Bird" was the attempt of the Philippine Government during the presidency of Corazon Aquino to recover the alleged US$ 7.5 billion of hidden accounts and assets of President Ferdinand Marcos and his family in the Swiss banks.[1][2] Conceived by Philippine banker Michael de Guzman, it commenced shortly after Marcos was forced into asylum in the United States.[3] Initially, Operation Big Bird did not recover any money with two differing reports by Representative Victorio Chaves and Senator Jovito Salonga. Chaves laid the blame upon Salonga, Solicitor-General Sedfrey Ordoñez and the Swiss bank lawyers.[3] Salonga countered that Ordoñez had prevented the Philippine government from losing a large sum of money.[3] Evidence suggests that de Guzman acted in good faith on behalf of the new government but that a double cross may have been present.[3]

Background[edit]

  Countries that dealt with the Marcos wealth and assets
  Republic of the Philippines

After Ferdinand Marcos fled the Philippines, President Aquino's Executive Order No. 1 on February 28, 1986, created the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG). The mandate of the PCGG was to recover all the ill-gotten wealth of Ferdinand Marcos, his family, relatives, associates, and cronies. Salonga was called to head the PCGG.

Operation Big Bird began when Filipino banker and Chairman of Credit Manila, de Guzman, contacted the Aquino administration and offered his services to recover the Marcos' wealth in the various banks in Switzerland and other countries. De Guzman then was put in touch with Brigadier General Jose T. Almonte and Charlie Avila.[4]

The banks, financial institutions and other companies that dealt with the Marcos wealth and assets were held in various countries, namely:[4][5]

Timeline of Marcos wealth and Operation Big Bird[edit]

Pre-EDSA Revolution[edit]

  • March 1968
    • An official of Credit Suisse in Zurich, Walter Fessler, was brought to Manila on the request of Malacañang. Forms were filled out and signatures appended. Marcos, on his signature verification form, wrote "William Saunders," an alias he had used in his World War II days, and underneath that name he wrote his real name. Imelda Marcos did the same, choosing "Jane Ryan" as her pseudonym. Four bank accounts were opened. Four checks, totaling US$950,000.00 were given for the deposit.[4][6]
  • Sometime in 1982
    • Credit Manila establishes its operations in Vienna with the incorporation of Exportfinanzierungsbank GmbH.[7]
  • Sometime in 1985
    • Mike De Guzman makes acquaintance with Victor Bou Dagher in Vienna, a Lebanese national residing in Austria who has some connections and acquaintances in the European banking network. De Guzman later introduces Dagher to Gen. Almonte in Manila in view of the news of Marcos hiding and moving their wealth in the Swiss banks. The group outlines their plans in capturing the Marcos money.[7]

Post-EDSA Events & The Lebanese Connection[edit]

The Credit Suisse Building in Zurich.
  • February 26, 1986
    • The Marcos party arrived in Honululu, Hawaii, beginning their exile. U.S. Customs officers take 5 hours to go over the 278 crates that group brought along with them. Twenty-two crates contained more than Php27.7 million in newly minted currency, mostly hundred-peso denominations worth approximately US$1,270,000.00[4]
    • There were other certificates of deposit from Philippine banks worth about US$1 million, five handguns, 154 videotapes, seventeen cassette tapes, and 2,068 pages of documents - all of which were impounded by Customs. The Marcos party was allowed to keep only US$300,000.00 in gold and $150,000.00 in bearer bonds that they brought in with their personal luggage because they declared them and broke no US customs laws.[4]
    • There were 24 one-kilo gold bars fitted into a $17,000 hand-tooled Gucci briefcase with a solid gold buckle and a plaque on it that read, "To Ferdinand Marcos, from Imelda, on the Occasion of our 24th Wedding Anniversary."[4]
  • March 1, 1986
    • De Guzman returns to Vienna and meets Dagher who updates him on the various reactions in the Swiss banking community regarding the recent developments in Manila. De Guzman begins to take action on how to transfer the money from the Swiss Banks to Austria.[7][8]
  • March 2, 1986
    • De Guzman and Dagher fly to Lebanon via Cyprus to meet with some influential contacts in the European banking industry - Beirut being the banking capital of the Mediterranean basin.[7]
  • March 3, 1986
    • At Larnaca, De Guzman was finally able to get through to Gen. Almonte, who has been tied down with the recent changes in the government after his role in the EDSA Revolution, particularly the Reform the Armed Forces Movement. Almonte informs De Guzman that he needs to get back to Manila to recommend him to Pres. Aquino for a possible appointment in the new government. De Guzman informs Almonte of his plans in Lebanon and promised to get back to him after his trip.[7]
    • After arriving in Jounieh, De Guzman and Dagher met with fellow bankers who give him an idea on how Iran was able to recover the frozen assets of the abdicated Shah in Switzerland. De Guzman was informed by the contacts that the Swiss banks will be moving the Marcos money to various financial institutions to safeguard the deposits and avoid a massive withdrawal - which the bankers alleged was a dark practice of the Swiss banking systems even in little affairs such as marital divorce. This brought forth the suggestion that De Guzman should go to Hawaii and meet with the Marcoses to get a Power of Attorney to withdraw the money in their behalf before the banks close in on the accounts. De Guzman claims he has no intimate associations with the Marcoses, but that his only contact would be Col. Irwin Ver, former Commanding Officer of the Presidential Security Group, and son of General Fabian Ver. It was here where De Guzman and his associates started calling the plan "Operation Big Bird."[7]
  • March 12, 1986
    • President Aquino passes Executive Order No. 2, freezing all Marcos assets in the Philippines.[9]
  • March 15, 1986
    • De Guzman and Dagher return to Vienna, and was able to get the new contact details of Irwin Ver in Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii through his in-Laws who were still in Manila.[7]

The Power of Attorney from the Marcoses[edit]

  • March 18, 1986
    • De Guzman and Dagher arrive in Honolulu and meets Col. Ver and Gen. Ver. The meeting was mainly a personal one.[7]
  • March 19, 1986
    • De Guzman and Dagher meets with the Vers once more and convinces them to raise the subject with the Marcoses on the Swiss banks freezing their accounts. Gen. Ver initially refuses as he says that this was a matter to Marcos alone and not himself, but De Guzman was able to convince the elder Ver.[7]
  • March 20, 1986
    • De Guzman receives a call from Irwin Ver who confirms that a meeting has been arranged with the Marcoses - Ferdinand, Imelda and Bongbong - at their temporary lodging in the base housing inside Hickam AFB.[7]
    • At the meeting, De Guzman shared the news that the Swiss banks will make a move on their account. Marcos wanted to confirm this information and sends Bongbong and De Guzman around 10:00 pm to Honolulu International Airport to call their personal banker in Credit Suisse, Ernst Scheller. The off-base call was made to avoid possible wire taps or listening devices.[4][7]
    • Upon their return to the base housing, the Marcoses hold a family meeting where Bongbong updates the family on the teleconference. An hour later, Bongbong leaves with De Guzman for the airport once more, but this time the telephone operator refuses to give Bongbong the international connection. They return to the base housing, where De Guzman received a note from Imelda stating "Palmy Foundation" and a plastic bag containing traveler's cheques worth US$ 300,000.00.[7]
  • March 21, 1986
    • De Guzman is called for a lunch meeting by Col. Ver. In the said meeting, Gen. Ver hands De Guzmanan Allied Bank Hong Kong Cashier's check worth US$ 150,000.00 from Lucio Tan, and requested the latter to clear the check and send the money back. De Guzman later admitted in the Philippine House of Representatives' investigation on Operation Big Bird that he didn't intend to return the money, but use it to fund the said operation.[10]
    • Imelda produces the Power of Attorney and tasks Bongbong to hand this to De Guzman back at the hotel. Bongbong orients De Guzman on their contact in Credit Suisse, Ernst Scheller, and told him to get in touch with the gentleman once they enter Switzerland.[7][10][11]

Initial attempt in Switzerland[edit]

  • March 22, 1986
    • De Guzman and Dagher leave Hawaii for Vienna, and proceed in securing their entry visas to Switzerland.[10]
  • March 24, 1986
    • De Guzman flies with Dagher to Zurich to meet with Scheller and present the Power of Attorney to transfer the Marcos money to the Exportfinanzierungsbank in Vienna. They were initially informed by Scheller that the Swiss authorities have put a "freeze order" on all the accounts linked to the Marcoses, but failed to produce any formal documentation on this. Scheller also mentioned that he re-documented the records already and moved the accounts as instructed by Ms. Fe Gimenez, Marcos' personal secretary, three weeks before after their evacuation of Malacañan Palace. Without the formal notice of the freeze order, De Guzman suspects Scheller of stalling the transfer in protection of the interest of Credit Suisse and not the Marcoses.[10]
    • After the meeting, Scheller calls on the Swiss Federal Banking Commission that De Guzman was trying to transfer US$ 213 Million to Vienna. That very same evening the Banking Commission, in an unprecedented move, imposed an emergency freeze order on all the accounts of the Marcoses. This act was questioned later since the Banking Commission does not have the authority to freeze bank accounts.[4][10][11]
    • The Swiss Federal Council taking note of the confusion created by the Banking Commission's "freeze order" made a follow through act, and formalized the freeze order in anticipation of the new Philippine government's claim on the said accounts. The Aquino government welcomed the freeze order, and the PCGG hired three prominent Swiss lawyers Messr. Sergio Salvioni, Guy Fontanet, and Moritz Leuenberger, to handle its case. The said lawyers were recommended by Chief Justice of the Federal Supreme Court Otto Konstantin Kaufmann, who was the classmate of Salonga in Yale University.[10][11][12]
  • April 18, 1986
    • The Philippine government submitted an informal request to the Swiss authorities for mutual assistance in the recovery of the Marcos wealth.[11]
  • April 25, 1986
    • The Government of the Philippines submits a follow-through formal request for mutual assistance to investigate and retrieve the ill-gotten wealth. The Swiss Federal Office of Police then issued a freeze order in substitution for the exceptional freezing order of the Federal Council.[11]

Operation Big Bird under the Philippine Government[edit]

  • May 7, 1986
    • Mike de Guzman attempts once more to retrieve the Marcos money in the Swiss accounts, by making Scheller acknowledge their personal meeting and the Power of Attorney. Scheller replied by telex from Credit Suisse, but informs De Guzman that the freeze order is still in place.[10]
    • De Guzman finally calls Gen. Almonte and updates him of his recent activities. Almonte on the other hand informed De Guzman that there are some parties in the new government who are have serious doubts on him as he had a reputation for being an associate of Danding Cojuangco, a Marcos crony. This prompts De Guzman to head to Manila to present his plans for Operation Big Bird to the new Philippine Government.[10]
  • June 16, 1986
    • Back in Manila, Gen. Almonte arranges a meeting between De Guzman and the brother of Pres. Aquino, Congressman Peping Cojuangco (Tarlac, 1st District).[4][11][13] De Guzman offered to help the Aquino government in retrieving the Marcos wealth in return for a fee of 20% commission on the initial batch of funds. De Guzman presented that they had identified accounts in Credit Suisse amounting to US$213 million, and eleven foundations that held a total of US$4.5 billion in deposits in nine different banks with an additional US$3 billion in precious metals and securities on deposit - or a tentative total of US$7.5 billion. And most of all, they had the Power of Attorney from the Marcoses.[4] Cojuangco instructs Dr. Fernando Carrascoso, who was present in the meeting, to arrange for De Guzman's introduction to PCCG Chairman Jovito Salonga.[10]
  • June 18, 1986
    • Dr. Carrascoso informs De Guzman that Chairman Salonga was not available, and thus he was instead referred to Commissioner Raul Daza. The meeting was also attended by Mayor Charlie Avila. De Guzman briefs the gentleman on the plans of Operation Big Bird. Daza committed to get approval from Salonga.[10]
  • June 20, 1986
    • Daza receives the approval from Salonga to head to Vienna, and he informs De Guzman right away. Plans are made for Avila, Daza, and De Guzman to head to Vienna on June 22 to meet up with Dagher and his associates.[10]
  • June 22, 1986
    • Salonga changes his order a few hour before the group was to depart for Vienna, and informs Daza to stay in Manila for a court case. De Guzman was caught surprised by this sudden change and arranges for a meeting with Salonga at the latter's residence in Mandaluyong to plead the importance of the group's mission to Vienna. Salonga was hesitant, and tells De Guzman that he should instead coordinate with the PCGG's Swiss lawyers in Bern. Having no other recourse, De Guzman requests Salonga for a letter of introduction to Philippine Ambassador Luis Ascalon who would arrange for the meeting with the Swiss lawyers.[10]
    • De Guzman confers with Gen. Almonte once more and informs him of Salonga's decision, and pleads with the General to accompany him to Switzerland to give his mission an official basis. Almonte and De Guzman proceeds to Peping Cojuangco's residence and updates the Congressman on the meeting with PCGG and the change of plans. It was then decided to push through with the Operation, and De Guzman informs Dagher of their arrival by June 25.[10]
  • June 25, 1986
    • Gen. Almonte receives a last-minute clearance from Executive Secretary Arroyo, and flies with De Guzman to Vienna where they meet Dagher and his associates, who then proceeds in orienting Almonte on the possible actions to take to retrieve the Marcos money identified in the Swiss banks. Almonte satisfied with the plan sends a telex to Peping Cojuangco.[10]
  • June 26, 1986
    • De Guzman, Dagher, and Almonte fly to Bern where the group, through the arrangement made by Amb. Ascalon, met with PCCG lawyer Dr. Salvioni, who advises them that any request made by the Philippine Government must be signed by the Solicitor-General of the Philippines.[10]
    • After the meeting Dagher updates De Guzman that the Swiss banks have received the news of their arrival and thus they might take action in moving the funds. Taking this matter seriously, Almonte calls on Cojuangco to request Arroyo to authorize Ambassador Ascalon to file the official documents for the request of transfer in place of the Solicitor-General. Cojuangco connects Almonte to Arroyo directly, who confirms verbally that he will prepare the formal authorization for Ascalon. The group waits for two days in Bern without any follow through from Malacañang.[10]
  • June 28, 1986
    • After losing two days in Bern, De Guzman and Almonte return to Manila with a sense of urgency and met up with Cojuangco, to give him a personal debriefing on the developments in Switzerland, and to activate the plan of the government to retrieve the plundered money in the Swiss banks. Cojuangco assessed the situation and weighed on the possibility of Operation Big Bird failing. That if it failed it would damage the President's reputation as well as cause another turmoil for the country. Almonte countered that if they didn't proceed with Operation Big Bird, the country will lose 3 to 5 years before gaining a hand on the money. Cojuangco concluded that he will confer with his brother, Pedro Cojuangco, before they present it to the President, their sister.[10]
  • July 1, 1986
    • After conferring with his older brother, Congressman Cojuangco presents the options to President Aquino, and a meeting was arranged for General Almonte and De Guzman to orient the President on Operation Big Bird. Aquino approved the plan, and Operation Big Bird finally commenced with De Guzman, Almonte, being joined by Solicitor-General Sedfrey Ordoñez.[4][10][11][14] De Guzman makes Ordoñez and Almonte members of the Board of Exportfinanzierungsbank, along with Almonte's former mentor and former Marcos Executive Secretary, Amb. Alejandro Melchor, Jr.[13]

Second attempt with the Philippine Government[edit]

  • July 4, 1986
    • De Guzman, Almonte, and Ordoñez arrive in Bern, and are met by Ascalon. Ascalon informs the new Philippine government recovery team that the three Swiss lawyers of the PCGG and a gentleman by the name of Pieter Hoets was waiting at the Philippine Embassy. Upon arrival at the Embassy, Hoets and the lawyers insisted that the scheduled meeting with the Swiss bankers should only be attended by Ordoñez, and that De Guzman and Almonte should not be included. Almonte defends the group and reminds that they have all been appointed by the President to work as a team on Operation Big Bird. A long argument ensues between the Swiss lawyers and the Philippine representatives.[10]
    • Having enough of the stalling of the three lawyers and Hoets, and with the 11:00am appointment coming, General Almonte called De Guzman, Ascalon and Ordoñez aside, and to the surprise of the Swiss lawyers, sped off to the meeting at the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP). The group arrived just in time, and sat down with Dr. Lionel Frei, Chief of Section in charge of the case, Dr. Pierre Schmidd, Vice Director of the FDJP, and Dr. Hess, representative of Elisabeth Kopp, Member of the Swiss Federal Council who is overseeing the FDJP. After Ascalon and Ordoñez's formalities with the Swiss officials, Almonte proceeds in explaining the government's position. The three Swiss lawyers and Hoets joined the meeting when De Guzman presented the Power of Attorney from the Marcoses, the list of identified accounts, and the action plan for transferring the money to Austria. Overall the meeting only took 20 minutes, when the Swiss authorities unanimously decided to approve in principle the selective defreezing of only those identified Marcos accounts and foundations, amounting to US$ 213 million.[15] The Swiss authorities advised the Philippine representatives to formalize the request, and even told them to finish this before the day's end.[10][11]
    • Upon returning to the Philippine Embassy, the group calls Chairman Salonga and Congressman Cojuangco on the success of the Operation, and rushes to complete the required formal documents. Dr. Salvioni questions the urgency of the Filipino team, but was ignored and Ordoñez signed the request accordingly. The letter arrived at the FDJP with 15 minutes to spare before the 6:00 pm deadline. FDJP was to act on the request, and by Monday, July 7, have the Zurich Court execute a transfer instruction to the Swiss banks.[10]
  • July 5, 1986
    • Ordoñez, Almonte, and De Guzman arrive in Vienna after a 12-hour train ride, to prepare the transfer of the funds to the Philippine Government's account at the Exportfinanzierungsbank.[10]
  • July 6, 1986
    • De Guzman receives additional information on the newly identified Marcos accounts in Switzerland amounting to US$ 3 billion in six different banks. The breakdown of the deposits are US$ 700 million in money placements, US$ 1.3 billion in securities and bonds, and US$ 1 billion in Gold certificates. It was suggested for the team to prepare the same request as those of July 4, and that Almonte shall fly to Switzerland first thing the next day to endorse the documents to Ambassador Ascalon for a formal communication to the FDJP.[10]
  • July 7, 1986
    • Almonte flies alone to Zurich at 6:00am with the signed documents, but Ascalon refuses to affix the official communication of the Embassy without the approval of Dr. Salvioni. De Guzman, who was in Vienna, frantically tries to track down Dr. Salvioni to no avail. Almonte returns to Vienna that night and briefly updates Ordoñez on what has transpired in Bern. Ordoñez postpones the meeting until the next day.[10]
    • The FDJP meanwhile acts on the request and lifts the freeze order on the US$ 213 Million identified by the Philippine representatives.[7][10][11]
The former office of the Exportfinanzierungsbank along Prinz Eugen Strasse in Vienna.
  • July 8, 1986
    • The Judge of Instructions in Zurich ordered Credit Suisse to release and transfer the defreezed Marcos deposits to the account of the Philippine Government in Exportfinanzierungsbank in Vienna.[11]
    • Ordoñez however made a turn around, in fear of the money being diverted from Vienna to a Marcos-favored destination. The Swiss lawyers hired by the PCGG tipped Ordoñez on the credibility of De Guzman and his bank in Vienna. Ordoñez instructed the Swiss lawyers, without informing Almonte and De Guzman, to request the FDJP and Credit Suisse to direct the transfer of the monies to a new destination, the newly opened account of the Philippine Government within the said bank.[11]
    • Ordoñez secretly left Vienna for Zurich then to Manila on the orders of PCGG Chairman Salonga.[8][13] Almonte and De Guzman are left in Vienna without an idea as to what happened to the Solicitor-General, and frantically search Vienna for the Filipino official, until confirming on July 10 that Ordoñez was already in Manila.[7][10]
    • Meanwhile, before the transfer was made, the Credit Suisse official, Ernst Scheller, contacted the son of the former President, Bongbong Marcos, and informed him of the Philippine Government's actions. This gave Ferdinand Marcos to execute a revocation of his Power of Attorney to De Guzman.[7][11]
  • July 11, 1986
    • De Guzman and Almonte head back to Manila and debrief Congressman Cojuangco on the events that took place in Bern and Vienna.
    • Marcos' revocation of the Power of Attorney was sent by facsimile to his Swiss lawyer, Bruno de Preux of the law firm Tavernier, Gillioz, de Preux, Dorsaz in Geneva.[11]
  • July 13, 1986
    • The Philippine Daily Inquirer quotes Ordoñez that they were able to retrieve the initial US$ 213 million of Marcos' plundered money in Switzerland, and that the said fund will be in the government's hands soon.[10]
    • Marcos' Swiss lawyers submit copies of the revocation to the Swiss authorities.[7][11]
  • July 20, 1986
    • The FDJP rescinded the defreeze order reference to the Revocation Letter received from Marcos on the Power of Attorney given to De Guzman.[11][15]

Aftermath[edit]

Almonte receives a call from Malacañang on December 24, 1986, and was called for a meeting with the President to debrief her on what actually happened in Switzerland and Austria.[7] The meeting was confirmed by Ms. Ching Escaler, Aquino's Appointments Secretary (and later Philippine Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and New York) on December 29, 1986. Almonte arrived with De Guzman in Malacañang, and was met first by Executive Secretary Joker Arroyo who stalled the two along with Justice Secretary Ordoñez from meeting the President.[7][13]

Meanwhile, on October 21, 1988, a US Federal Grand Jury in New York indicts Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos for a US$ 268 million racketeering scheme, siphoning the Philippine Treasury of US$ 103 million, and defrauding US banks of US$ 165 million. By November 3, Imelda returns to Hawaii after Doris Duke posted a US$ 5 million bail.[9]

The Philippine Government thus lost its chance to recover the money in the Marcos Swiss accounts through 'Operation Big Bird. The whole fiasco was then brought into light by the Philippine House of Representatives' Committee on Public Accountability in mid-1989, under the Chairmanship of Cong. Victorico "Concoy" Chaves (2nd District, Misamis Oriental).[11]

The Chaves Report suggested that the Philippine Government would have immediately recovered the $213 million in July 1986 from Credit Suisse and its affiliates had the operation not been stopped by PCGG Chairman Salonga and Solicitor-General Ordoñez, and that this would have "paved the way to the recovery of the other deposits of the Marcoses with the Swiss banks" which was estimated by the Chaves Report to be at least $3 billion.[11]

On the side of De Guzman and Gen. Almonte however, they also lay the blame on Executive Secretary Joker Arroyo, and Philippine Ambassador to Bern, Luis Ascalon, aside from Ordoñez and Salonga.[2] Jovito Salonga, who by 1989 was already the Senate President, and Ordoñez who became Justice Secretary, have fully denied these accusations.[16][17]

The Chavez Report also rejected the view of the Swiss attorneys and PCGG Chairman Jovito R. Salonga that they had saved the Philippine Government from a massive theft. It concluded that if the funds were remitted to the Vienna bank to the account of Philippine government, whose authorized joint signatories were Solicitor-General Ordoñez and Gen. Almonte, there was no realistic chance that De Guzman would have stolen the money. In addition to this the Exportfinanzierungsbank in Vienna was also strictly regulated by the Austrian Federal Market Authority (FMA), and that the bank's board even had Almonte, Ordoñez, and Amb. Alejandro Melchor - ensuring the Philippine government's interest in the bank protected. And finally, De Guzman expected to receive a commission of $40 million (i.e. a 20% commission on the $213 million) if the monies were recovered, and thus he had an interest in ensuring that recovery did take place.[11]

On December 20, 1990, the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland decided that the US$ 213 Million along with other banking documents should be transferred to the Philippine government, with conditions however.[18]

On August 10, 1995, the PCGG filed with the District Attorney in Zurich, Switzerland, an additional request for the immediate transfer of the deposits to an escrow account in the Philippine National Bank (PNB). The request was granted. On appeal by the Marcoses, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, in a decision dated December 10, 1997, upheld the ruling of the District Attorney of Zurich granting the request for the transfer of the funds. In 1998, the funds were remitted to the Philippines in escrow.[6]

On December 10, 1997 under the Swiss Federal Act of International Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (IMAC), the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, issued the final decision to transfer the fund to the Sandiganbayan which now grew to US$ 540 Million due to interest.[18]

Also in 1997 the Philippine Senate's Blue Ribbon Committee and the House of Representatives' Committee on Good Government, would again review the saga of Operation Big Bird, with the same conclusion. Aquino's Vice President, Salvador Laurel would reflect that this their administration's greatest failure.[19]

Starting April 1998 up to July of that year, the Swiss authorities started transferring the identified Marcos money in Swiss banks to an escrow account in the PNB.[20]

On July 29, 1999, Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Francis E. Garchitorena denies the motion to release US$ 150 million from the funds to pay Marcos human rights victims.[6][21]

On October 27, 1999, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee held a special hearing in the Philippine Consulate in Honululu. In the hearing, businessman Enrique Zobel testified that in early 1989, he met with Marcos as he was for asking a US$ 250 million loan from him. Zobel in turn, refused it unless there was a financial backing. Marcos later produced documents of a Vatican trust in gold accounts to pay off the loan.[22]

On February 4, 2004, the Marcos money which now grew to US$ 683 million, was finally transferred by PNB to the Bureau of the Treasury.[18][23][24]

According to the Agrarian Reform Law, part of the retrieved Marcos wealth will be utilized for the government's agrarian reform program, and the remaining part for the compensation of the victims of the Marcos dictatorship. Once all pending legalities were settled regarding the US$ 683 Million in escrow, the fund was finally transferred to the Department of Agrarian Reform and Department of Agriculture.

However, by 2005, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) reports that the portion of the money was diverted by the Arroyo administration for the President's campaign during the 2004 elections.[25] This led to Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry concluding that Pres. Arroyo mismanaged the fund - which then became known as the Fertilizer Fund scam.[26][27]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Distorting history
  2. ^ a b Joker needs no clearance - Cory; Manila Standard; July 22, 1989 p.5
  3. ^ a b c d Peter, Lamour; Nick Wolanin (May 2001). "Corruption and anti-corruption". Google Books. pp. 104–106, 251, 260. ISBN 978-0-7315-3660-3. Retrieved 31 May 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Marcos Chronology Report
  5. ^ Dunlap, David W. (January 13, 1991). "Commercial Property: The Bernstein Brothers; A Tangled Tale of Americas Towers and the Crown". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 June 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c G.R. No. 152154. Sandiganbayan; July 15, 2003
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s De Guzman's Testimony on "Big Bird"; Manila Standard, July 12, 1989 p.20
  8. ^ a b Raiders of the Lost Gold
  9. ^ a b Efforts to Recover Assets Looted by Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa De Guzman's testimony on Big Bird, Manila Standard, July 13, 1989, p.22
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Tracking the Proceeds of Organized Crim - The Marcos Case
  12. ^ Letter of Jovito Salonga to Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, January 30, 2006
  13. ^ a b c d In the case of poll failure, who will be President? Emil Jurado, Manila Standard, October 10, 1997
  14. ^ A nobody is now a somebody in Makati, Emil Jurado, Manila Standard, April 27, 1995
  15. ^ a b Almonte-De Guzman joint-statement on "Big Bird," Manila Standard, July 15, 1989, p. 7
  16. ^ Cory wants to know about bungled $7.5B FM money; Manila Standard, July 16, 1989
  17. ^ Salonga silent on Guzman raps, Manila Standard, July 12, 1989, p.2
  18. ^ a b c Millions can be brought back from foreign accounts
  19. ^ From the lips of dying President
  20. ^ Republic of the Philippines v Maler Foundation and others Civil Appeal No 7 of 2007; March 4, 2008
  21. ^ Rights abuse victims win vs. Marcos estate, The Manila Times, April 12, 2010
  22. ^ "DEPOSITION OF MR. ENRIQUE J. ZOBEL". Senate of the Philippines. October 27, 1999. Retrieved 12 June 2010. 
  23. ^ $683M still in escrow at PNB, Malacañang assures
  24. ^ PNB given until Feb. 2 to remit $683-M funds
  25. ^ Billions in Farm Funds used in Arroyo Campaign
  26. ^ Sandbagging the opposition
  27. ^ Senate links Arroyo to fertilizer fund scam

External links[edit]