Palace awaits Congress to 'authorize' Duterte for Marcos wealth deal

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Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 4) — The ball is now in Congress' court to return the Marcoses' ill-gotten wealth, the Palace said.

During a press briefing Monday, Malacañang urged the government's legislative branch to "authorize" President Rodrigo Duterte to negotiate and set parameters on the plan to turn over wealth from the Marcos family.

"We urge the Congress to authorize the President to proceed with the negotiations," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.

Abella failed to mention legal basis for Congress' intervention, only saying the President cannot simply "act on his own."

Duterte previously said the Marcoses may possibly return the wealth through a settlement, but would need a law for the turnover to happen.

Read more: Duterte: Marcoses offer settlement on family wealth

When asked what the role of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) would be in the negotiations, Abella deferred the answer to Congress.

"This is new ground, right? This is entirely new ground. So we need guidance... We defer to that — the statement of the President that it will have to be referred to the Congress," Abella said.

The PCGG is tasked to recover the billions of dollars amassed by former President Ferdinand Marcos during the twenty-one years he was president. From its inception in 1986 until December 2015, the agency has recovered over ₱170 billion (US$3 billion) in ill-gotten wealth.

Last week, the President said a spokesman of the Marcos family offered to turn over some of their questionable wealth, including "a few gold bars".

On charges filed

The Palace is mum on the questionable wealth, saying that the final word on whether or not it is ill-gotten will come from Congress.

"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," Abella said.

But Abella explained they are not discounting the possibility of filing charges against the family.

Duterte said that according to the Marcos' spokesman, the late President Marcos only kept the money "to protect the economy".

The Marcos family and their cronies face at least 248 cases filed by the PCGG, as of December 2016.

On Saturday, Duterte said the Justice Department will have the discretion to pursue cases against the Marcoses.