Ferdinand Marcos inquiry chief says commission should shut down

MANILA — A commission that has been pursuing the wealth of former dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos should be abolished, despite the fact that much of his allegedly ill-gotten wealth has not been recovered, its chairman said Wednesday.

Andres Bautista, the chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, told reporters Wednesday that he had recommended to President Benigno S. Aquino III that the special commission be phased out.

“Our recommendation was to wind down work,’’ said Bautista, noting that it is more efficient, and less costly for the government, if the Department of Justice handles the hunt for assets and any future cases against Marcos associates.


In an earlier interview with Agence France-Presse, Bautista said, ‘‘It has become a law of diminishing returns at this point.’’

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Marcos led the Philippines from 1965 to 1986, when he was overthrown by the bloodless popular revolt known as People Power.

He declared martial law for part of his time in office and empowered his flamboyant wife, Imelda R. Marcos, to help rule the country.

Investigators have accused the Marcos family and their associates of plundering an estimated $10 billion from the Philippines while millions of Filipinos suffered in grinding poverty.

In particular, Marcos’s wife was noted for extravagant displays of wealth that included lavish shopping trips to New York City with a huge entourage, spending millions on jewelry and art.


But in recent years, members of the Marcos family, including Imelda Marcos, have taken prominent political posts, complicating the commission’s efforts.

The commission was created after prodemocracy leader Corazon C. Aquino, the current president’s mother, came to power in 1986, and it was charged with the worldwide pursuit of the assets of the Marcos family and its associates.

According to one analyst, the abolition of the commission will effectively end the pursuit of that wealth.

“If a special body with extraordinary powers specifically tasked with finding the hidden wealth of Marcos cannot do it, then who else is going to?’’ asked Edre U. Olalia, the secretary-general of the human rights organization National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers. ‘‘The government is giving up the fight.’’