President Corazon Aquino welcomed Friday the Swiss Supreme Court's conditional decision to return to the Philippines $350 million allegedly stolen and salted away in Switzerland by the family of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
The Swiss court ruled Monday that the money, frozen in several Swiss banks since March 1986, must be repatriated to the Philippines as soon as a competent criminal court in Manila has issued a "legally binding" verdict in the case.The court gave the Philippine government one year to open criminal proceedings, and said the trial must conform to standards set by Swiss laws covering independence of the judiciary and impartiality of judges.
"The decision of Switzerland's Federal Supreme Court should be hailed as a victory for the Filipino people," Aquino said in a statement.
"It is a favorable disposition, at the highest judicial level of that country, of our request for cooperation in regard to documents and evidence that will be of great help in prosecuting the cases against the Marcoses and their nominees and associates for recovery of ill-gotten wealth.
"For our part, we are confident that we will be able to fulfill the conditions within the time frame available."
Aquino did not say if Marcos' widow, Imelda, and his children would be allowed to return to their homeland, a precondition set by Philippine laws if they were to face criminal proceedings.
Aquino has barred their return to the Philippines, fearing it might stir up trouble, and has avoided filing criminal charges.
The Marcoses are believed to have stolen some $10 billion before they were ousted from 20 years of power and forced into exile in Hawaii in February 1986. Marcos died in September 1989 in Hawaii.
Upon request by the Philippine government, Swiss lower courts have frozen the Marcoses' assets in Swiss banks, estimated by authorities at between $300 million and $500 million.