29 Dec 2006

Singapore court denies govt claim over Marcos money



By SANDY ARANETA
The Philippine Star


Singapore’s High Court has denied the Philippine government’s claim to the $23-million Marcos funds in the city state, the lawyers for human rights victims said Thursday.

In a statement, lawyer Rod Domingo Jr. said at issue in the Singapore case is over $23 million of money originally hidden by former president Ferdinand Marcos in a Swiss bank before being transferred to Singapore.

"Following nine months of briefing and several oral arguments, Justice Kan Ting Chiu of the Singapore High Court entered a judgment denying the (Philippine) Republic’s major defense," he said.

Martial law victims claim the money to partially satisfy their now $4 billion judgment against Marcos, he added.

The Philippine National Bank claims it is custodian of the money for the Republic, Domingo said.

Lead counsel Robert Swift said it is a significant victory on the way to obtaining a final verdict for the entire $23 million of Marcos funds.
"The Singapore Court upheld Singapore’s sovereignty to decide ownership to property located in Singapore," he said.

"The tragedy is that the Republic is so heartless that it opposes every effort by Filipino human rights victims to recover on their judgment.

"The Republic even opposes the US Court-ordered distribution of the first payment of US$2,000 to each victim from monies already collected in the US on their behalf."

Domingo said that "the government’s claims to the money in Singapore are sinking fast."

"I think the Singapore Court is sending a signal to our government that it wants this matter settled or there could be dire consequences," he said.


Despite spending over $1 million in legal fees and the engagement of Singapore’s largest and most influential law firm, the Philippines is losing the case, he added.

Domingo said the Presidential Commission on Good Government’s vaunted defense of sovereign immunity, as in the Arelma case, has once again been debunked and shuttered.

"When will it ever stop working against the oppressed victims of human rights abuses?" he asked.

Domingo said in a 27-page decision, Kan ruled that the arguments made by PNB were arguments of the Philippine government, and not those of PNB.

"The Republic has therefore, by its agent PNB, laid its claim before this Court and has submitted to the jurisdiction of the Court," Domingo quoted the decision of the Singapore High Court. Kan also assessed costs, including legal fees, against the Republic and PNB, he added.

The 9,539 Filipino victims of martial law are part of a class action litigated in the United States against Marcos for torture, killings and forced disappearances, Domingo said.

The Philippine government has asserted that it was awarded the money by the Philippine Supreme Court in July 2003.

The litigation began in 2003 when West LB, a Singapore Bank, was confronted with competing claims for the money and deposited the money to the Singapore High Court.

Early in the litigation, PNB argued the case should be heard in the Philippines, but the Singapore High Court denied that request and assessed costs in favor of human rights victims.

In early 2006 the Philippine government entered the case to try and force its dismissal, arguing it was a claimant to the money but was entitled to sovereign immunity and not subject to the jurisdiction of the Singapore Court.

In 1995, a US jury awarded the human rights victims an amount which, with interest, is now worth $4 billion.

The judgment was affirmed on appeal.



10 comments:

Matilah_Singapura said...

Are you people crazy? What are you griping about?

If the banks handed the moolah over, no criminal or persons of dubious character will ever trust the banks again! And that would affect the profits!

Also, remember that Marcos was appointed via democratic process, which means:

The People Get The Govt (and Dictator) They Deserve

The structure of The State makes it easy for a "leader" to claim ABSOLUTE POWERS, and it is near IMPOSSIBLE to stop him in time.

On the plus side, Marcos did liberalise the Phillipino economy... even if he did plunder the coffers and lavish his friends and family.

Why the fuck do you think people go into politics anyway?

No decent human being would ever contemplate a life or a career in politics. Only the most brillig and slivey of humankind do.

pranka said...

"No decent human being would ever contemplate a life or a career in politics. Only the most brillig and slivey of humankind do." --so that leaves your President, Sellapan Ramanathan, a fucking president too. Straighten up your logic, will you, or it wont get you anywhere. This is a sound advice.

Happy New Year!

Matilah_Singapura said...

Sound advice? From you.

Bite me. Then blow me.

Anonymous said...

To Pranka:

So, that will include all our other former Presidents, too - Ong Teng Cheong, Wee Kim Wee.........?


It only shows your ignorance.

Our Presidents are not the Heads of Government (unlike the Philippines and USA, etc...) Our Presidents are the Heads of State; and are largely ceremonial besides having some powers.

Our Prime Ministers are the Head of the Government.

Matilah_Singapura said...

That's right. And in S'pore, the prez's powers are clipped and limited, essentially to ceremonial duties — as it should, because this is an IMPORTANT point for the LIBERTY of the people.

Note history: when presidents are given powers as head of govt, there is a temptation to go to war against others or with the people. e.g. Marcos, Soekarno, Suharto, US Presidents, Russian Presidents, Saddam, Both Koreas (still at war), African warlords turned presidents, commie/fascist South American "revolutionaries" turned head of state.

...but in S'pore, it could change. There's a bunch of democracy nutcases who want the president to be directly elected by popular vote. That would be the begining of the end, because the power base would shift (eventually) to the presidency.

Anonymous said...

Folks,

The article is not criticising Singapore, but praising it. Check out the text in bold (which was not bolded in the original report): the "Republic" refers to the Philippines. Robert Swift is the lawyer representing human rights victims:
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=news05_jan28_2006

The Philippine Government is being criticised for ignoring these victims and wanting the money for itself:
http://starbulletin.com/2006/12/02/editorial/editorial01.html

It is the Philippine Government that tried to interfere in the Singapore proceedings. The Singapore court rejected the Philippine Government's attempt.

In other words, the "significant victory" was given by Singapore to the human rights victims.

The only question in my mind is whether the person who posted the article in Singabloodypore knew that.

Anonymous said...

To Matilah_Singapura

"Note history: when presidents are given powers as head of govt, there is a temptation to go to war against others or with the people. e.g. Marcos, Soekarno, Suharto, US Presidents, Russian Presidents, Saddam, Both Koreas (still at war), African warlords turned presidents, commie/fascist South American "revolutionaries" turned head of state."

____________________

Is it the fault of the *Office* or the person that things turn bad? Seems to me that Tony Blair ... you know ... that deputy poodle of Sheriff Bush, lied about nonexistent threats and WMDs and plumbed for the Iraq war too didn't he?

Puzzled

Matilah_Singapura said...

It is the system fundamentally, but the tyoe of person plays a part also.

Human nature never changes. Almost everyone will take a "free lunch" if they were presented the opportunity. And having the absolute powers of The State at one's disposal is temptation enough for ordinary human beings — what about then, the more scummy types who have "flexible" ethics?

I mean, what would motivate a person to go into politics — which is legalised criminal activity — anyway?

No decent human being would contemplate a position where they control the lives of others, by force.

So politics does attract a certain (unsavoury) type of human being. And yeah, politics pays a lot better than outright criminal activity.

soci said...

I usually ignore Anonymous commentators -

"The only question in my mind is whether the person who posted the article in Singabloodypore knew that."

as opposed to asking why Singapore Gov. is will to accept the title of money laundering capital for any despotic regime...

You seem to think that the Singaporean gov. gives a FCUK about human rights... They want the money end of...

And read the blurb at the top of the site "Social and political issues related to Singapore and the South East Asia region."

Anonymous said...

Dear soci,

Whether the S'pore Govt is engaging in money-laundering and why, as whether it cares about human rights, are questions that many people are willing to answer, and going by the majority of the contents (and comments) of this blog, the answers are clearly "yes" and "no" respectively.

How you (wrongly) concluded that I think the S'pore Govt cares about human rights, I don't know. But I'll give you credit for saying I only "seem" to think so. (=

My point is that the article that was posted, was not critical of Singapore at all. It was in fact favourable. That raises a question in my mind, to which at least this blog and its commentators - including the blurb you mentioned - have not yielded any clear answer.

My personal opinion is that whoever posted that article in Singabloody (as well as on the SDP's website) probably wanted to further the impression/truth about Singapore's moneylaundering and (mistakenly) thought that the several highly critical comments levelled against the Republic of the Philippines were actually made against the Republic of Singapore.

I could be more cynical in thinking that the poster knew the true contents of the news article but hopes that normal readers will skip the context, go straight to the olded portion, and think that those human rights victims are publicly calling Singapore "heartless", etc., ...