PCGG oppose Marcos claim

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE government body tasked to recover ill-gotten wealth said yesterday it will oppose a petition claiming ownership of an 18.4-hectare property in the Ortigas business district by Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

“Certainly, we will oppose the motion for intervention. We will file the necessary objections there, [though] the petition of the claimant is already too late,” said Narciso Nario, commissioner for legal affairs of the Presidential Commission on Good Government.”

Separately, the Ortigas and Company Limited Partnership, which used to own part of the property, said Marcos Jr. “is entitled to his own interpretation of the matter, although one must note his belated filing.

“[Ortigas and Co.] filed its own [claim on the property] back in 1986, in which was detailed how the contested property—even though not for sale—was acquired in 1968 from [the company] through intimidation and [the] undue influence of the late President Ferdinand Marcos,” the company said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Marcos Jr., the incoming representative of Ilocos Norte’s Second District, filed before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court a petition claiming ownership of the property 21 years after a Marcos crony turned it over to the government to avoid prosecution.

The late Jose Campos, Marcos Jr.’s godfather, bequeathed the property to the government in a compromise deal in 1986, the same year Marcos was driven from power, after the government threatened to file graft charges against him and to confiscate his assets.

The property, once the site of the Payanig sa Pasig theme park, is now a commercial area bordered by Meralco, Ortigas and Julia Vargas.

Marcos Jr. claims that his father had legally purchased the property from Ortigas and Co. on May 31, 1968. It was then priced at P40 a square meter, but the property is believed to be worth P18,000 to P20,000 a square meter now.

Marcos Jr. said his father made an initial down payment of P1 million for the property, and then settled the P5.4-million balance in three equal installments over three years each Dec. 31.

A copy of the conditional sale he presented showed it was Campos who had represented the late President in the deal, and that he registered the property under the name Maharlika Estates Corp., which was later changed to Anchor Estate Corp. In 1971, Anchor Estate Corp. transferred its rights to the property to Mid-Pasig Land Development Corp.

Marcos Jr. claims that all three real estate firms were created by Campos in behalf of his father.

But Nario said Marcos Jr.’s claim was too late because the property was now under the name of the Republic of the Philippines, which had been paying all the taxes on it since 1986.

“All the acts of ownership are exercised by the Republic through the PCGG,” he said.

Ortigas and Co. has been trying to forge a deal with the PCGG under which it would get 35 percent of the property and the government 65 percent, but that offer has not prospered as a result of a disagreement over the property’s value.