POSTED: 7:52 p.m. HST, Sep 23, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 9:54 a.m. HST, Sep 24, 2010
More than 9,000 Filipinos who successfully sued Ferdinand Marcos in an American court over human rights abuses in the Philippines may soon receive the first installment of their nearly $2 billion judgment against the former president.
Three corporations created by Marcos cronies agreed to a $10 million settlement over a claim by the plaintiffs that 4,500 acres in Texas and Colorado were paid for and owned by the Marcos estate, said Sherry Broder, one of the plaintiffs' lawyers.
"This is a major step. But only one step," she said.
The plaintiffs have collected some money from the sale of a Makiki Heights home where the Marcos and his family stayed following their forced exile in 1986, a bullet-proof Mercedes Benz owned by a Marcos associate and a Picasso painting. But the amounts were too small to distribute to the 9,539 people who were members of the class-action lawsuit, Broder said.
The class members are victims of torture, summary executions and disappearances, and their heirs. The U.S. District Court in Hawaii awarded them $1.96 billion in damages in 1995.
Broder said the plaintiffs are still attempting collect on the judgment, including a share of about $1 billion in an escrow account of funds previously in Swiss banks under Marcos family members' names.
The Philippine government is also laying claim to the money.
The U.S. military spirited Marcos and his family out of the Philippines in 1986 as Filipinos were about to lay siege to Malacanang Palace amid the "People Power" uprising that swept him out of office. Marcos lived in Hawaii until his death in 1989.
Marcos's wife and children have since returned to the Philippines. His wife, Imelda, is a member of the Philippine House of Representatives. His son, Ferdinand "Bong Bong" Jr., is a member of the Philippine Senate.
And his daughter Imee is the governor of his home province, Ilocos Norte.