Marcos family unite against Lucio Tan

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — AFTER keeping silent for two decades, Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. appears before the anti-graft court this afternoon to testify for the government in its ill-gotten-wealth case against tobacco and beer magnate Lucio Tan.

“We are on the side of truth, and wherever the truth lies, that is where we are,” Marcos said a day before his scheduled testimony.

The Marcos family has claimed that it owns up to 60 percent of Tan’s business empire, which the businessman held in trust for the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.

Marcos’ son said he was testifying only now because documentary evidence—including deeds of sale—of the family’s claim became available just recently.

Marcos said he would prove that his father had the capacity to acquire his vast wealth without using his office.

“My father was not president since he was born. My father was president only in 1965. Until then, he was one of the top lawyers, if not the top lawyer in the Philippines. So, its entirely possible that he had acquired all of these things beforehand,” he said.

The former First Lady Imelda Marcos will also testify that 60 percent of Tan’s assets belongs to the Marcos estate.

Government lawyers and the Presidential Commission on Good Government had asked the Sandiganbayan, the anti-graft court, to subpoena the Marcos documents that were the basis of Mrs. Marcos’ cross-claim over the disputed Tan assets.

Marcos Jr. said he was ready to back the government’s claim that a significant chunk of Tan’s firms belongs to the Marcos family.

Tan’s lawyer, former solicitor general Estelito Mendoza, said he believed that Marcos would affirm the government’s allegations against Tan because he was testifying in its favor.

“It is his right to testify. I will hear his testimony and find out if he will indeed confirm the allegations in the complaint of the PCGG. Then, I will cross-examine him,” Mendoza said.

A commission lawyer, Catalino Generillo Jr., met with Marcos at the law offices of Marcos, Ochoa, Serapio & Tan yesterday at 2 p.m., but neither side would say what was discussed.

Commissioner for Legal Affairs Nicasio Conti said the government would present Marcos as a hostile witness.

The commission also said it would look into the complaint filed by Marcos’ sister, former Rep. Imee Marcos, claiming that the Marcos family was the rightful owner of shares held by the Duavit family in GMA Network.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. yesterday urged the commission to stop the Marcoses from reclaiming assets believed to be ill-gotten, including the block of shares in GMA Network Inc. held by former Rizal Rep. Gualberto Duavit Jr.

Pimentel’s call was supported by Senator Richard Gordon, who called for an investigation on the commission’s handling of the ill-gotten wealth cases against the Marcos family.

“There could be basis to the suspicions that there were arrangements made in these cases,” Gordon said.

Also yesterday, the commission said it had revoked the immunity of Jesus Disini, saying the arrangement hindered its ability to pursue its case against his cousin Herminio, who is accused of receiving kickbacks in the construction of the mothballed $2.1-billion Bataan nuclear power plant.