The resignation of a top official, charges of corruption and internal squabbling are hampering efforts to recover billions of dollars that Ferdinand Marcos allegedly stole during his 20 years in office.
There are even calls for scuttling the Presidential Commission on Good Government, or PCGG, which President Corazon Aquino created two years ago to recover up to $10 billion in assets that Marcos and his associates are accused of taking.The commission is fighting for control of bank accounts, stock and real estate scattered throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, including about $350 million in New York real estate.
But so far, the commission says it has gained control of only $300 million in various assets in the Philippines. All but $60 million worth are subject to lengthy litigation.
One commission member, Jose Laureta, told reporters that at the current pace, it might take 100 years to retrieve the money "if we're lucky."
"If we're unlucky, 300 years," he added.
"Only Marcos and (his wife Imelda) are laughing," wrote columnist Vicente Albano Pacis in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. "The present difficulties of the PCGG must have been the first good news the Marcoses have received since they arrived in Hawaii."
The Marcoses have lived in exile there since his ouster from the presidency in February 1986.
The crisis in the five-member com mission reached a climax Tuesday when Aquino announced the resignation of its chairman, Ramon Diaz.
Diaz, a former insurance executive with an untarnished reputation for personal honesty, quit in disgust after Solicitor-General Francisco Chavez accused the commission of incompetence and a "trail of corruption."
Chavez made his accusation in the wake of a graft charge against commission member Quintin Doromal, who allegedly used his influence to win a government contract for a firm owned by his family.
Doromal, who denied the charge, is to be arraigned before an anti-graft court early next month.
Diaz said in a letter to his staff that he resented being "toyed around." He also claimed that relatives of unnamed "powers that be" interfered with the commission to free assets seized by the commission.