OSG says fund distribution to Marcos victims 'grossly disadvantageous to the government'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 3) - The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has denied the distribution of funds granted to victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime based on a United States court ruling.

The OSG, currently headed by Duterte-appointee Jose Calida, said that distributing the funds would be detrimental to the government.

"The OSG reviewed the terms of the proposed settlement agreement. Unfortunately, the terms were found to be grossly disadvantageous to the government and not in accord with existing Philippine laws and jurisprudence," the OSG said in a statement.

The agreement was signed by the Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG), which is tasked to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and his family, with the New York District Court.

It would distribute to the claimants the approximately $2 billion worth of proceeds from the sale of paintings recovered from Imelda Marcos' private secretary Vilma Bautista.

The human rights violations victims filed a class action lawsuit against the Marcoses in Hawaii in 1995.

Known as Claimants 1081, they have already received two previous tranches of reparations after winning the case. Withdrawing from the agreement could block the third tranche.

"The Office of the Executive Secretary issued a Memorandum on January 8, 2019 approving the request of the PCGG for authority to enter into a settlement agreement of the interpleader case pending at the New York District Court presided by Judge Katherine Failla.

"However, the said Memorandum required that before the PCGG can enter into the settlement agreement, both the OSG and Department of Justice (DOJ) shall approve its terms," the OSG said.

It added that as of March 11, the three government agencies agreed to withdraw from the agreement, and that the PCGG informed the U.S. court through a letter dated March 16.

However, Claimants 1081 said that the OSG is muscling in on the settlement.

"It is to be noted that the PCGG has the jurisdiction over the Marcos assets and their recovery and that the OSG has failed in its attempt to either disband the PCGG and transfer jurisdiction or to transfer the PCGG under its jurisdiction. Congress did not pass the necessary bill for this," they said.

READ: Bicam rejects proposed PCGG, OGCC abolition