President Corazon Aquino's chief aide said Thursday a reported offer by exiled ruler Ferdinand Marcos to repay $5 billion in stolen wealth in exchange for his return home was a "ploy" to evade a U.S. indictment on fraud charges.
Executive Secretary Catalino Macaraeg gave Manila's first confirmation that Marcos had made a bid to end his Hawaiian exile under a proposed deal guaranteeing him immunity from all criminal and civil liabilities.Asked if the bid was rejected, Macaraeg told palace reporters, "of course."
Published reports earlier this month said the U.S. Justice Department was planning to ask President Reagan to approve an indictment against Marcos and his wife, Imelda, on charges of fraud and conspiracy.
The charges would be based on the Marcoses' ownership of several Manhattan buildings and on alleged efforts by Saudi Arabian arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi to help the couple conceal their property holdings, the reports said.
Legal observers said Marcos could go around the indictment if he could show that negotiations were being conducted with the Philippine government.
Macaraeg said Emmanuel Pelaez, the Philippine ambassador to the United States, reported to Aquino earlier this month about efforts by two American emissaries to negotiate a deal on behalf of Marcos.
He said one of the negotiators was A. James Gregor, a University of California at Berkeley political science professor, but could not recall the name of the other one, who was identified in a Los Angeles Times report as Jay Hoffman, a Tarzana, Calif., public relations man.