Manila to auction off Marcos family's ill-gotten gains

MANILA - Jewellery, property and stocks confiscated from the Philippines' former dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his family following his ouster 30 years ago will be sold, officials said yesterday.

Marcos fled to Hawaii in 1986 following a popular revolt, known as "People Power". He had ruled the Philippines for 20 years, during which time his family amassed an estimated US$10 billion.

Sources at the Finance Ministry said the government is looking to raise at least 838.85 million pesos (S$25 million) from the sale of two properties, company shares and the jewellery.

Proceeds from the sale will go to the Bureau of Treasury and Philippine Commission on Good Government," Deputy Finance Secretary Gil Beltan said, referring to the agency established to track down the Marcos family fortune.

About 300 pieces of jewellery, including a rare 25-carat barrel- shaped pink diamond, are among the assets that will be auctioned. The three jewellery collections have been appraised by international auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's.

The government had tried to auction the three jewellery collections in 2005 but the late dictator's widow Imelda Marcos contested the move, claiming ownership of two of the sets.

According to the BBC, the Philippine authorities are rushing to sell the jewels in case the couple's son, Ferdinand Marcos Junior, becomes vice-president after the general election in May. Officials fear he would then stop the auction.

Mrs Imelda Marcos, now an elected member of Congress, is best known for leaving behind more than 1,200 pairs of shoes when she and her husband fled the country. She has vowed to recover her family's seized assets.

Ferdinand Marcos died in exile in 1989. Their only son, Ferdinand Marcos Junior, is a senator. He is running for vice-president in the May elections and the latest independent polls show him to be a top contender.