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US$29 mil. recovered from Marcos accounts

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine government has recovered more than US$29 million from the Swiss accounts of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the search for more of his hidden wealth continues 28 years after he was toppled, an official said Friday.

The money, recovered over the last week, is part of the more than US$712 million from Marcos' secret Swiss accounts now in government hands, said Andres Bautista, chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, the agency in charge of recovering Marcos' allegedly ill-gotten wealth.

The government won ownership of the funds after several years of litigation in Singapore courts over claims by victims of human rights violations under Marcos' rule and private foundations representing the Marcoses, Bautista said at a news conference.

Authorities have already recovered more than US$4 billion from an estimated US$5-10 billion amassed by the Marcoses during the dictator's 20-year rule, he said.

Bautista said last month that the government was targeting at least 50 billion pesos (US$1.1 billion) more.

“There is still a lot of work that can be done in respect to pursuing ill-gotten wealth,” he said Wednesday. “We should not allow ill-gotten wealth, the taking of ill-gotten wealth, to go unpunished.”

The Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that the Marcoses wealth in excess of their total legal income of around US$304,000 from 1965 to 1986 was presumed to be ill-gotten.

Marcos died in exile in Hawaii in 1989 without admitting any wrongdoing during his presidency.

Bautista said the government had filed more than 200 civil cases for recovery and forfeiture of ill-gotten assets, including real estate, amounting to about 30-40 billion pesos (US$667-US$890 million) from the Marcos family, their cronies and associates.

It is also seeking more than 150 paintings of “prominent masters and artists” collected by the Marcos family that went missing after the Marcoses were forced to flee from the presidential palace during the February 1986 “people power” uprising.

Bautista declined to comment when asked whether he believes Marcos' widow, Imelda, and their three children are still living off their hidden wealth.

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