House Speaker wants full, unconditional return of Marcos wealth

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 11) — House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Monday he had no problems with the Marcos family returning their wealth — as long as it is done with no conditions and not piecemeal.

"Sa akin naman, wala naman tayong problema diyan, basta pag sinauli, without any condition. At saka isauli naman lahat, hindi yung sauli ko lang one-fourth... tapos off the hook ka na," Alvarez told CNN Philippines' The Source.

[Translation: For me, there's no problem with (them returning the wealth), but they should do so without conditions. And they should return all of it, not just one-fourth... then they get off the hook.]

His comment comes amid the centennial birth anniversary of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, which was met with protests.

Related: Protesters slam Marcos centennial birth rites, warn of 'creeping dictatorship'

It also comes after President Rodrigo Duterte said the Marcoses, through a representative, offered to return "a few gold bars."  He also advised the Marcos family to ask for immunity in exchange for the return of the ill-gotten wealth.

"If I were the Marcoses, kung isauli ko lang naman 'yan, sabihin ko sa kanila, 'Maghingi kayo ng immunity,"" Duterte told reporters on September 6.

[Translation: If I were the Marcoses, if I would return that wealth, I would advise them, "Ask for immunity."]

Related: Marcoses not asking for immunity in exchange for returning wealth - Duterte

But the House Speaker is against granting immunity to the Marcoses.

"Kung kinakailangan iprosecute, prosecute natin. Para sa akin wala namang bargaining chip e, walang bargaining position dito, except na isauli mo lang talaga," he added.

[Translation: If we have to prosecute them, we should. For me, there's no bargaining chip. They're not in a bargaining position. They just have to return it.]

A staunch ally of Duterte, Alvarez does not share the President's soft stance on the Marcoses. He said his opinion on the Marcoses goes back to his days as a student during martial law, which was fraught with corruption and human rights abuses.

"Grabe yung nakawan nung panahon na yun. 70s? Matindi iyon. Kaya hindi ko rin talaga matanggap na basta magsauli ka na lang," he said.

[Translation: The stealing in the 70s was intense. That's why I can't accept it just be returned.]

On Friday, Alvarez said that he was not invited to the centennial celebration and he had "better things to do."

Duterte, on the other hand, has stayed true to his campaign promise and allowed the controversial burial of the late strongman at the  Libingan ng mga Bayani in November last year. He also told CNN Philippines anchor Pinky Webb that he had "utang na loob" (debt of gratitude) to Marcos' eldest child and Ilocos Governor, Imee.

The Marcos family fell from grace when patriarch Ferdinand Marcos was ousted by the 1986 EDSA revolution. Three years later, he died in exile in Hawaii.

According to the World Bank and the United Nations, Marcos started amassing ill-gotten wealth on his first year as President in 1965.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government, which is tasked with the recovery of the Marcos wealth, has taken back some P170 billion ($3 billion) — about a third of the $10 billion estimated to have  been stolen.

Related: Martial law victims push for faster recovery of Marcos wealth, including missing paintings

Victims of human rights violations during the martial law era started receiving compensation in May 2017. Some 35,000 more claims have to be awarded before May 12 next year.

Related: One year left to pay martial law victims

Alvarez is pushing for the PCGG to be moved from the justice department to the Office of the Solicitor-General.