Offshore reporting collaboration prompts interest from two Philippine government agencies and attorney representing former Marcos regime political prisoners.
Manila–Philippine government officials said Friday that they will look into a media organization’s disclosure that the eldest daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was a beneficiary of a secret offshore trust in the British Virgin Islands.
Maria Imelda Marcos Manotoc, more popularly known as Imee Marcos, did not report her offshore trust on asset disclosure statements that she’s required to file every year as a public official, according to a story released Thursday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.
She has been governor of Ilocos Norte province, her father’s traditional political bailiwick, since 2010, and was a member of the Philippine’s House of Representatives from 1998 to 2007.
“We are duty bound to investigate and, depending upon informed preliminary findings, decide whether to pursue the matter,” Andres Bautista, the chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, told Agent France-Presse. The commission is tasked with recovering the Marcos family’s alleged ill-gotten wealth.
The justice secretary, Leila de Lima, also said she will order a preliminary investigation into the reports if the matter is referred to her agency. “If there is a positive finding, that’s the time to make a formal probe,” she was quoted by the news web site of GMA 7 television station.
A human rights lawyer said he will also initiate an investigation to find out more about Imee Marcos’ offshore trust and see if it can be seized to compensate human rights victims of the elder Marcos’ martial law regime.
“If we find that it is positive we can do some legal action and force that, wherever it may be found,” Rod Domingo told GMA 7 television station. Domingo represents a group of former political prisoners who won a suit for damages brought against Marcos in a U.S. court.
Imee Marcos, sought for comment by reporters, said she has referred the matter to her lawyers. “Let’s leave that aside for now and let the lawyers take care of it,” she told ABS-CBN news television.
Meanwhile, the head of the country’s civil service commission said public officials owning offshore trusts and companies should declare them in their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.
“If it’s in your name and it’s really yours, meaning you’re not being a dummy for anyone, you should declare it,” Francisco Duque III, chairman of the commission, told GMA 7 news television. “I’m sure the offshore trust fund yields interest income. Not only the trust fund amount [should] be declared but also the interest.”