MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Philippine court decision ordering the widow of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to relinquish more than $100,000 in jewelry is a victory for Filipinos and shows that crime does not pay, an official said Tuesday.
The Sandiganbayan anti-graft court said Monday that former first lady Imelda Marcos should forfeit the jewelry after ruling it was ill-gotten.
Andres Bautista, chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, said the court's decision "is really a victory of the Filipino people."
"The important lesson is that crime and corruption do not pay. It may take long but eventually the long arm of the law will catch up," he said.
It is the third collection of Marcos jewelry that the government has acquired. The two other collections are estimated to be worth up to $8.4 million.
The commission, which is charged with recovering the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses, is proposing that the three collections be exhibited to show the excesses of the 20-year Marcos regime, Bautista said.
There was no immediate comment from Imelda Marcos or her lawyer. The flamboyant former first lady was known for shopping sprees abroad while a majority of Filipinos remained mired in poverty at home. Her shoe collection of over 1,000 pairs became a symbol of extravagance.
Marcos, who declared martial law during his rule, was toppled by a popular revolt in 1986. He died in exile in Hawaii three years later.
"We cannot deny that this is part and parcel of our history and they are examples of the excesses that were committed during the martial law regime," Bautista said. "We owe it to our future that the lessons of the past are not forgotten and the dark abuses should not return again."
Bautista said current President Benigno Aquino III has not decided whether to auction the jewelry.
The government has recovered 164 billion pesos ($3.7 billion) of Marcos' alleged hidden wealth over the years and is targeting at least 50 billion pesos ($1.1 billion) more.
The amount includes more than $600 million in Swiss accounts set up in the early years of Marcos' administration.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that the Marcos' wealth in excess of their legal income of around $304,000 from 1965 to 1986 "is presumed to be ill-gotten," Bautista said.