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Monday, March 4, 2024

Immunity for Marcoses nixed

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OPPOSITION lawmakers on Wednesday took exception to President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that the family of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos might ask for immunity from suit once they returned their alleged ill-gotten wealth to the Philippine government.

In a statement, Akbayan Party-list Rep. Tom Villarin said giving immunity to the Marcos family would be wrong.

“Enacting a law giving immunity to the Marcoses would give a wrong signal that committing a crime will pay off in the end as justice is negotiable by the powers that be,” Villarin said.

“The irony is that not a single individual from the Marcoses and their cronies have been put to jail and finally, through legislative fiat, their sins are extinguished and their family names polished without a blemish.”

Villarin made his statement even as Vice President Leni Robredo said the Marcoses must first confess to stealing billions from government coffers before any talk of resolving the pending cases against them could begin.

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She made her statement VP Leni after President Rodrigo Duterte said the members of the Marcos family were willing to “open everything and hopefully return” some of their wealth to the government.

In an interview after attending the 55th  anniversary of Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. on Tuesday, Duterte said the Marcoses would not be willing to return their alleged ill-gotten wealth if they would be detained.

“We have to craft a law on that, and that [will give them] immunity,” he said.

But Villarin said returning all the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth would not put closure to the atrocities of martial law.

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said immunity was often reserved for people who were less guilty.

“Here, the persons to be immunized are the direct perpetrators or conspirators at the least,” Baguilat said. 

“And now that they admit having stolen wealth from the people and managed to stash it away despite massive government efforts to recover, they are also obstructors of justice.”

Baguilat said if Duterte were to push his idea, it was better to just abandon all concepts of law and justice.

“I can steal anything from anyone, make money out of it for awhile, then offer to return and get amnesty for it. Heck, I may even be buried as a hero,” he said.

“But this is more than just the money. It’s about justice and accountability for the crimes against the people during martial law”•the killings, the torture, the suppression of freedoms and the degradation of our democratic institutions.”

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said giving immunity to the Marcoses would be a “mockery of justice.”

“A culprit who returns what he has stolen is not liberated from criminal prosecution,” he said. 

“It is a mockery of justice and an insult to the aggrieved sovereign people to exempt the Marcoses from criminal culpability in exchange for a few pieces of stolen gold bars or even for their entire ill-gotten hoard.

“A criminal must pay for his crime despite his having belatedly returned the object of his transgression.”

Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos earlier said there had been no negotiations yet between her family and the government on the return of their alleged ill-gotten wealth.

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