MANILA, Philippines » Former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos said yesterday that she will have a merry Christmas thanks to a court ordering the return of one of the sprawling mansions the government seized after her husband was deposed.
The Supreme Court ruled late Monday that the government agency created to recover billions of dollars allegedly looted by former dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his wife used a defective order to seize the beachfront, 104-acre estate on Leyte Island.
The ruling came 24 years after a nonviolent "people power" uprising ousted Marcos and the government sequestered most of their property. Imelda Marcos and her children are seeking the return of the assets.
Officials allege the sprawling property was acquired through Marcos’ looting of public money while in power. Imelda Marcos has long denied the allegation, saying the mansion is a family property where her father was born.
Imelda Marcos will forever be remembered for the dazzling jewels and 1,220 pairs of shoes she left behind in the presidential palace. They also are among the assets seized by the government and sought by the Marcoses.
Marcos and his associates allegedly amassed up to $10 billion in ill-gotten wealth during his 21 years in power. The Presidential Commission on Good Government has so far identified around $6.5 billion and recovered cash and assets totaling around $1.97 billion.
Marcos, who declared martial law in 1972, ruled with an iron fist, imprisoning dissidents and stifling freedoms. He died in exile in Hawaii in 1989 without being brought to trial.