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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Narvacan Mayor Chavit Singson wrongly claims $650M Marcos Swiss bank deposits are ‘not ill-gotten’

False

An earlier version of this article misidentified Singson as Ilocos Sur governor. Singson is an incumbent mayor of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur. We apologize for the mistake and thank our reader who caught our attention to this error.

(UPDATED) Luis “Chavit” Singson, mayor of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur and a staunch ally of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., claimed that the funds deposited in Swiss bank accounts of the presidential candidate’s family and recovered by the Philippine government in 2003 are “lawfully theirs.”

This is false.

STATEMENT

In an interview with Christian Esguerra, anchor of ABS-CBN News Channel’s program After the Fact, Singson said the Marcoses have long been bombarded by “allegations” of ill-gotten wealth.

Esguerra then mentioned the 2003 ruling of the Supreme Court (SC), which found that over $650 million in the Marcoses’ Swiss bank deposits were “unlawfully acquired.”

Singson replied:

Ang diperensya diyan, sinasabi na kasi na ninakaw (ang $650 million). Hindi naman ninakaw eh. Sa kanila ‘yun eh. ‘Yun ang diperensya.

(The problem there is, they’ve been saying these were stolen. They were not stolen. That’s theirs. That’s the problem.)

Source: ABS-CBN News Channel 24/7, Why Chavit Singson is campaigning for Bongbong Marcos, Sara Duterte? | ANC, Feb. 18, 2022, watch from 12:12 to 12:18

Esguerra repeatedly referred to the overwhelming evidence that the High Court evaluated before issuing its ruling, but the mayor insisted that even records could be “fabricated.”

He said:

Ipagpalagay mo, worse comes to worst or whatever, tama ka, ano naman ang kasalanan ng anak (Marcos Jr.)?

(Granting, if worse comes to worst or whatever, that you are correct, what is the fault of the son?)

Source: watch from 15:59 to 16:05

FACT

In 2003, the SC, citing “undeniable circumstances” and “an avalanche of documentary evidence,” ruled that the Marcoses failed to “justify the lawful nature of their acquisition” of the money in Swiss banks transferred to the Philippine National Bank. The court ordered the forfeiture of these deposits, by then valued at $658,175,373.60.

The magistrates based their decision on three grounds:

  1. the offender was a public official;
  2. he must have acquired a considerable amount of money or property during his incumbency; and,
  3. the amount is manifestly out of proportion to his salary as a public servant and other lawful income, plus income from legitimately acquired properties.

The SC noted that the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and his wife, Imelda, “admittedly owned” five account groups in Swiss banks amounting to $356 million, which was “way, way beyond their aggregate legitimate income” as government officials, calculated at only $304,372.43 from 1966 to 1986.

The magistrates explained:

“Considering, therefore, that the total amount of the Swiss deposits was considerably out of proportion to the known lawful income of the Marcoses, the presumption that said dollar deposits were unlawfully acquired was duly established.”

Under Section 9 of the Presidential Commission on Good Government’s rules and regulations:

“Any accumulation of assets, properties, and other material possessions of those persons covered by Executive Orders No. 1 and No. 2, whose value is out of proportion to their known lawful income is prima facie deemed ill-gotten wealth.”

At least three other SC rulings affirmed the forfeiture of the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth and transferred its ownership to the Republic of the Philippines. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Video with multiple FALSE claims on Marcos’ Swiss bank accounts back online)

 

Erratum: An earlier version of this article misidentified Singson as Ilocos Sur governor. Singson is an incumbent mayor of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur. We apologize for the mistake and thank our reader who caught our attention to this error.

 


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Check out these sources

 

ABS-CBN News Channel 24/7, Why Chavit Singson is campaigning for Bongbong Marcos, Sara Duterte? | ANC, Feb. 18, 2022

Supreme Court E-library, G.R. No. 152154, July 15, 2003

The LawPhiL Project, Executive Order 1, Rules and Regulations, April 11, 1986

Official Gazette of the Philippines, EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 1, Feb. 28, 1986

Supreme Court E-library, G.R. No. 189434, April 25, 2012

Supreme Court E-library, G.R. No. 189434, March 12, 2014

Supreme Court E-library, G.R. No. 213027, Jan. 18, 2017

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)