POSTSCRIPT / February 1, 2009 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Given a chance, Imelda vows to banish poverty

GOODBYE, POVERTY: If former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos were to be given a chance to access her family’s wealth locked in various banks worldwide and pursue her dreams, there would be no more poor Filipino in about two years.

Yes, you heard it right from Imeldific. All this noise about many Filipinos not having enough for basic needs will vanish, almost like magic, when she brings to work the fabulous wealth that her late husband, Ferdinand Marcos, amassed over decades.

The other day I happened to be with three other newsmen chatting with Superma’am in her penthouse at McKinley Place in Fort Bonifacio. She was in fresh green, still poised and charming — although, she confessed, the knees were creaky at times.

Her receiving room was almost choked with choice art objects. I told Lito Gorospe, who still assists her with media details, I was afraid to go near the precious items. “Don’t worry,” he kidded me, “if you touch something and it breaks, you take it home.”

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GOLD HOARD: Just how much is the fabled Marcos wealth? Ma’am just smiled — she must have heard the question popped a million times before –and said something about some really wealthy people not being able to count their money.

Later she opened two rooms where voluminous documents were neatly arranged on long tables that, she said, were the legal basis for her claiming valuable assets, mainly gold, stashed away in several banks in 72 countries.

To give you an idea, in the Bank of England alone, Marcos deposited 205 tons of gold in 1981 to back up paper money to be printed in London against American advice (read: pressure). At that time, gold was priced at $420 per ounce, versus $927 at present.

Marcos had bullion in 177 banks, starting his gold hoard 10 years before he became president in 1965. Mrs. Marcos said her husband was lawyering for many mining firms and quietly amassing gold.

This is the wealth that she said she could use to raise Filipinos from poverty and undeserved shame.

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U.S. ISSUES: On the side, Mrs. Marcos said the days of the mighty dollar are numbered. She said it would be more prudent to have the peso backed by gold — as her late husband had wanted — instead of pegging it to the shaky dollar.

She said that that gold-vs-dollar issue was among the reasons why Marcos earned the ire of the US and moved it to help depose him in 1986.

There was also the issue of the military bases, she said, whose original 99-year lease (in perpetuity) Marcos reduced to 25 years and later to just five years while raising the rent to $700 million for their 23 military installations throughout the islands.

Then President Marcos cut the lease period, she said, because 30 years of continuous occupation could transform the bases into US possessions.

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SYNDICATED ESTAFA: Aside from the gold hoard, Mrs. Marcos said their assets include controlling shares in big Philippine corporations that the family has been trying to recover from the businessmen and former cronies holding them.

She showed thick folders of contracts and stock certificates that, she said, showed Marcos was a controlling shareholder of many giant firms.

Related to this, she noted the Department of Justice resolution for the filing of syndicated estafa charges against a prominent family in the hotel-restaurant business and their associates.

State Prosecutor II Phillip dela Cruz recommended last Jan. 19 the indictment of Erlinda Panlilio (a former hotelier/restaurateur and friend of the Marcoses), Marlo Cristobal, Nicole Morris, Jose Marcel Panlilio and Herminio Valerio.

The case arose from the allegedly fraudulent sale for P25 million of a 500-square-meter lot on T.M. Kalaw St., Manila, where the Luneta Hotel once stood.

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FALSIFICATION: The prosecutor also recommended that Cristobal be charged with falsification of public document for allegedly trying to secure the issuance of a new owner’s copy of Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-110068.

The TCT was not missing, as claimed by Cristobal, but intact in the possession of the complainant, the H.E. Heacock Resources Corp.

The National Bureau of Investigation recommended the investigation against the respondents on the complaint of Santiago Alvarez Jr., who was authorized by Heacock to file the suit.

Alvarez alleged that Rizal Park Hotel Inc. (RPHI) is the owner of the lot and the hotel building on it, as evidenced by the title in its name.

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PREVIOUS SALE: Records showed that the original RPHI incorporators were Panlilio and her husband, Rebecco Panlilio, Modesto Enriquez, Trinidad Enriquez and Leandro Enriquez, who owned all the 5,000 shares.

They assigned all their shares to Heacock on Sept. 15, 1973. The Panlilios and Enriquezes remained as trustees of RPHI with the responsibility to protect and promote the interests of Heacock.

Alvarez said he later discovered that RPHI’s registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission was revoked on July 2, 2003. He said he also learned that Erlinda Panlilio sold the RPHI lot on May 15, 2007, for P25 million to Beaumont Holding Corp., which then registered the land in its name.

It was the second time that respondents allegedly tried to sell the RPHI property. On Sept. 26, 1987, the respondents, through their lawyer, allegedly signed it away to JBA Group of Management and Development Corp.

But the register of deeds noticed something was amiss, and asked the NBI to investigate.

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