By Daniel Llanto i FilAm Star Correspondent
Vice-president Leni Robredo expressed disbelief that the Solicitor General, the U.S. equivalent of attorney general, lawyering for the Marcos family.
In blocking the New York district court order to apportion $13.75 million to martial law victims in the Philippines, Calida claimed that it is disadvantageous to the government, although the order sets aside $4 million as government’s share of that amount.
“What’s not good here was the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) itself was the one blocking (the court order). Our solicitor general, for several instances in the past, seems not to be lawyering for the government but for the Marcos family,” the Vice-president said.
“(Calida) is the solicitor general so he should be prioritizing the interest of the government. But when he has to choose between the interest of the government and the Marcos family, it seems he puts the Marcos family’s interest first, which is detrimental to those who depend on the compensation,” Robredo said.
Robredo is facing an electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son and namesake of the late dictator. His sister Imee is running for senator under the Hugpong ng Pagbabago Party of presidential daughter Sara Duterte.
New York district court Judge Katherine Polk Failla last week directed the release of $13.75 million to the human rights victims. Human rights victims are set to receive $1,500 each starting next month.
But the Philippine government, after initially engaging in negotiations, sought to stop the settlement agreement that will divide the proceeds from the sale of the paintings seized from Vilma Bautista, an aide of former first lady and Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos.
The Philippine government would get about $4 million from the settlement.
In a recent statement, the OSG said it is evaluating legal remedies.
“While the Republic fully recognizes that the human rights violation victims stand to benefit from this recent development, the government maintains its position that the proper venue for their claims are the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board or in the probate proceedings where the Marcos estate is being settled,” it said.
American human rights lawyer Robert Swift, counsel of the martial law victims that won the $2-billion class suit filed in Hawaii, said New York district court Judge Katherine Polk Failla directed the release of $13.75 million to the human rights victims following a hearing.
“There was no hesitation by the judge in ordering the transfer of funds,” Swift said in a statement.
Swift told reporters in an e-mail exchange that the settlement has been finalized and that the New York court issued a ruling providing for the release of the funds in January.
But that ruling may not be implemented, Munsayac said, as one of its conditions is securing the approval of the OSG.
Earlier this year, the Presidential Commission on Good Government chief said they have received authorization from Malacañang to negotiate for a compromise agreement on how to divide ill-gotten assets of the Marcoses that were recovered in the U.S.
It was a deviation from the previous position of the government, which refused to implement the $2-billion class action award and insisted on recovering all of the assets in favor of the Philippine government.
Munsayac at the time said Malacañang approved the negotiations as the compromise agreement would still benefit martial law victims.
With the OSG decision to disapprove the terms of the settlement, it appears that the government has reverted to its previous position of claiming the ill-gotten assets in its favor.
The PCGG was created in 1986 to run after the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their cronies, which is estimated to reach as much as $10 billion. Some PHP 170 billion (around $3.4 billion) have already been recovered.