A Philippine court has ordered the widow of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos to return $280,000 that her husband pocketed from the government’s food agency in 1983, an official said Monday.
The amount might be minuscule compared with the estimated $10 billion Marcos and his associates allegedly amassed during his 21 years in power, but the case marked a rare legal victory in efforts to reclaim at least some of the ill-gotten wealth.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government, which was formed after Marcos was ousted in 1986 with the task of tracking down the stolen money, has so far identified about $6.5 billion and recovered cash and assets totaling $1.97 billion.
An anti-graft court made the ruling Friday and gave Imelda Marcos 30 days to pay or, if she is unable to do so, provide a list of properties and assets to cover it, said court clerk Teresa Pabulayan.
The conviction was based on testimony by former National Food Administrator Jesus Tanchanco, who said that Ferdinand Marcos instructed him by phone in 1983 to transfer the money to his private account.
Tanchanco was granted immunity from prosecution in 1988 in exchange for his testimony.
Imelda Marcos, 81, who was elected to the House of Representatives last May, did not comment, although Pabulayan said she was notified of the court’s decision seven months ago and filed an appeal. The appeal was later dropped, and the court announced its final ruling Friday.