Who owns the seized Marcos properties?

NEW YORK CITY – It’s a case of who owns what and who can rightfully claim it.

The interpleaded Marcos property includes paintings, jewelry, carpets, and over $15 million in funds seized from several bank accounts. Several entities are laying claim to them.

These properties were seized from former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos’ personal secretary Vilma Bautista. Most of the paintings and large items are now housed at Christies — the world’s biggest fine arts auction house. While cash, jewelry, and the rest of the items are in the possession of the New York District Attorney’s office.

Claimants include the Philippine Commission on Good Government (PCGG) representing the Republic of the Philippines.

The Philippine government alleges that the late former President Marcos pocketed billions of dollars from the Philippines between 1965 and 1986.

The Philippines also alleges that the interpleaded property is part of Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth, therefore the Philippine government rightfully owns these properties.

The next claimant is Jose Duran and the victims of human rights abuses who belong to a class action holding a judgement of close to $400 million against the estate of the Marcoses.

Other claimants include the individuals from whom the said properties were seized:

  • Vilma Bautista and her sisters
  • Imelda Marcos
  • the Metropolitan Museum of Manila Foundation
  • Bautista’s attorney Jorge Ramos

Ramos, who is also an artist, claims that he owns eight of the paintings seized by the DA from Bautista’s residences.

Meantime, in a recent criminal action, it was determined that Bautista was not the rightful owner of two “stolen” paintings, as well as the proceeds of the “Water Lily” painting Bautista had sold.

However, the true owner of those paintings and the rest of the interpleaded property were not determined by that criminal action. That is why the New York District Attorney is now searching for the rightful owner of the property.

In a continuing hearing held at courtroom 618 at the Thurgood Marshall US Courthouse, Thursday, Judge Katherine Polk Failla granted the DA’s request to deposit the interpleaded property in the registry of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The Philippines legal counsel Kenneth Murphy said, “We think we’re going to have the opportunity to litigate the case, and defend the rights of the People of the Philippines to get back that property that was stolen from them.”

“It didn’t go procedurally the way we wanted it but the important thing is that we’re going to be able to move forward and prove that the class of human rights victims is entitled to the proceeds from the Monet painting some other paintings,” said Robert Swift, legal counsel for the human rights victims.

Judge Polk-Failla also denied Duran’s motion to remand the case to state court instead of the federal court.

“We conceded a long time ago that we’re happy in federal court. The question was how that would be accomplished,” Swift said. “The judge chose one method, not ours. But it’s alright because frankly it permits us to litigate some very large claims against the Philippines government and you can be assured that we’re going to be litigating them vigorously.”

Swift also said the biggest challenge that is preventing the group of human rights victims to collect payment is the Philippine government itself.

The seized properties are now set to be moved from Christies and the DA’s office to be deposited to the court on March 23.

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

2 Comments on this post.

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  • Generoso Magaoay
    20 February 2015 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    The sole of the seized Marcos properties is no other than the Marcoses. According to Wolfe (1990), the Marcoses went to trial in New York and were cleared of all five charges. Now lawyer in the United States, including what were assumed to be the best in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Philippines have put together were able to established facts. According to doctor Gener Acob (2010), it was a sad defeat that the PCGG at the time were trying their best to prosecute the Marcoses base on personal feelings, hunches, KUTOB, PALAGAY, etc…The same goes to Duran and the Human Rights Violation claimers??? So people claiming to have been victims of human rights violation were the same group of people causing problems in the Philippines before martial law. Lets go pound for pound on this issue… How is it that the fairness of the media failed to show that there were more ruthless human rights violations (including killings) committed by the CPP-NPA of which was engineered by Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino…Oh yes! Hacienda Luisita is the headquarters for the CPP-NPA…

  • Generoso Magaoay
    20 February 2015 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    The sole owner of the seized Marcos properties is no other than the Marcoses. According to Wolfe (1990), the Marcoses went to trial in New York and were cleared of all five charges. Now lawyer in the United States, including what were assumed to be the best in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Philippines have put together were able to established facts. According to doctor Gener Acob (2010), it was a sad defeat that the PCGG at the time were trying their best to prosecute the Marcoses base on personal feelings, hunches, KUTOB, PALAGAY, etc…The same goes to Duran and the Human Rights Violation claimers??? So people claiming to have been victims of human rights violation were the same group of people causing problems in the Philippines before martial law. Lets go pound for pound on this issue… How is it that the fairness of the media failed to show that there were more ruthless human rights violations (including killings) committed by the CPP-NPA of which was engineered by Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino…Oh yes! Hacienda Luisita is the headquarters for the CPP-NPA…(Claudio, 2010)

    http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/198820/news/specialreports/ninoy-networked-with-everyone-reds-included

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