The Untold History Of Marcos Wealth

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"Philippine Is A Rich Country Pretending To Be Poor" - First Lady Imelda R. Marcos

October 29, 1999 Page 1

DAVAO CITY- A former Catholic priest here claims to have evidence that the alleged Marcos gold horde is composed of World War II "Yamashita gold and Vatican gold.' Ex-priest Marcelino Tagle of Bataan, a former director of Caritas Manila and one of the nation's "Ten Outstanding Young Men' in 1967,said in a recent interview that the nation "should benefit' from the Marcos gold, which he estimated at "10 trillion dollars.'

Ten trillion dollars is 10 times more than the gross national product of China in 1998; around 127 times more than the GNP of the Philippines last year; and almost 10 times the combined worth of the world's 200 richest known billionaires in 1999. "Iam ready to substantiate and defend my claims for the benefit of theFilipino people,' Tagle said when told that his claims were preposterous.

The former priest said he once served as an adviser of the late President Ferdinand Marcos and administrator for the estate of another man whom he claimed was the source of the Marcos gold.

But because Marcos was allegedly able to gain control of the gold certificates and cover the paper trail, according to Tagle, "it is almost impossible to recover them without piecing the various pieceslikeamosaic.

Tagle said the gold certificates and bullion were deposited in at least 15 countries. How the Vatican and Yamashita treasure reached the Philippines is a story that, he claims, involves two of the century's most influential personalities-Adolf Hitler and Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

Royal Gold

Tagle said the Vatican gold included "gold bars captured by Hitler. The gold bars belonged to the royalties of Europe, of which the Vatican was trustee.' It also included "royal gold', which the British reportedly shipped to Singapore for safekeeping in the event that Hitler would conquer all ofEurope.

Tagle said that the Vatican entrusted the treasure to a certain Father Jose Antonio Diaz, who assumed several names when he moved to the Philippines. One of his aliases, according to Tagle, was "Col. Severino Sto. Romana." Tagle said Sto. Romana hired the young Marcos as his lawyer and trustee. He said the Sto. Romana gold was "actually more than the Marcos gold, about $50 trillion, but this treasure is tied up with the Marcos gold.'

Tagle, co-administrator of the Sto. Romana estates, said the Yamashita treasure was recovered through the help of MacArthur and Yamashita's wife. But an estimated 400,000 metric tons from both the Marcos and Sto. Romana gold, he said, "are still in the country, hidden incaves.

For Lack of Documents

The heirs of Sto. Romana were unable to recover the assets "for lack of original documents and (because of the) nature of the accounts (which required) full cooperation of nominees and trustees constituted by the late PresidentMarcos.

Appearing before the Senate blue ribbon committee on October 14, 1997, Tagle said Marcos, as lawyer and chief trustee of Sto. Romana.

*succeeded in isolating the nominees or trustees of the gold certificates from the physical assets - so much so that it is almost impossible to recover them without piecing the various pieces like amosaic.

Tagle said the "Marcos gold was not stolen from the Philippine government". Instead, said the former priest, Marcos abused his authority by using the Central Bank to transact the gold. Tagle, who is presently in Davao City as consultant of gold prospectors, said he was ready to substantiate his claims. He allegedly went into exile in the United States in September 1969 because the Marcoses were displeased about his leading a protest against graft and corruption in the Bureau of Customs.

He resigned from the priesthood and married. He is now chair and chief executive officer of International Consultex Inc., a New York-based mining, consultancy and engineering firm.

A Lot of Money

The Senate is conducting public hearings on the Marcos wealth, revolving around a $13.2-billion Swiss bank account once allegedly kept by Irene Marcos Araneta. Former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez is presenting the evidence. "Chavez knows what heistalkingabout,' said Tagle, adding that the Marcos wealth was so huge that even Marcos' widow Imelda did not know its exact worth.

If Tagle's $10-trillion estimate of the Marcos wealth were true, the Marcoses would be around 111 times richer than "the richest man intheworld,' Microsoft chief Bill Gates. Forbes Magazine in June estimated Gates' fortune at $90 billion. Ten trillion dollars is also 56 times more than the combined net worth of the top 50 billionaires in Asia, and almost 1,111 times the combined net worth of four Filipino billionaires who made it to the 1999 list. The Marcos family was noton that list. The amount is also equivalent to almost half of the combined GNP of the world's top 10 economies in 1998. It would take approximately 4500 people-counting uninterrupted at a rate of one dollar per second-70 years to count $10 trillion. Seven-point solution Tagle said among the first things government should do to recover the wealth is to abolish the Presidential Commission on Good Government which has spent "millions of dollars" but has failed to produce the desirable results in bringing back the gold assets for the benefit of the Filipino people.

Tagle proposed a seven-point solution to the problem of recovering the Marcos wealth:

* Create a Global Trust Fund to "secure, recover and distribute the assets of Marcos in and out court settlement.

* Have banking groups lend money to the Trust using the gold certificates and physical assets deposited in the lending banks, for a period of 15-20 years.

*The proceeds should be used to fund education, social services, medical needs, and generate jobs by building new plants, roads, transport facilities, communication, irrigation,energy development,etc.

* Probate courts should assist in determining the rightful heirs and beneficiaries (of the wealth) and effect compromise agreements with primary and secondary beneficiaries.

* Government and all beneficiaries should agree on their respective shares.

* Adequate compensation should be given to human rights victims.

* Put a major portion of the funds into the development of Mindanao and other depressed areas of the Philippines by creating new centers of industrial development and free trading zones.

* Establish an Asia-Pacific gold trading house in Subic backed up by a gold refinery, jointly operated by the Central Bank and private gold hall mark companies.

* Call a general and sectoral conference on the Marcos gold. World banking officials and lawyers involved in recovering the wealth must be invited.

Carolyn O. Arguillas, Chief, PDI Mindanao Bureau; with a report from PDI Research

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