Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.) said today that a Philippine commission investigating the wealth of deposed president Ferdinand Marcos has found "dynamite documentation" that firmly links Marcos with major real estate holdings in New York.
Solarz said at a news conference, at the end of a three-day visit, that Jovito Salonga, the head of a recently appointed Presidential Commission on Good Government, showed him a document connecting Marcos with Joseph and Ralph Bernstein, two New York real estate investors who Solarz said "were responsible for the management of the Marcoses' holdings in the New York area."
Solarz, chairman of the House subcommittee on Asian and Pacific affairs, has held hearings on the "hidden wealth" of Marcos, his family and associates. The Bernstein brothers have been cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions about the Marcoses' investments.
The Bernsteins have denied acting as fronts in the purchase of Manhattan office buildings and other properties for the Marcoses, and Marcos has termed such charges "malicious lies."
"I have now seen the document with the name of President Marcos on it," Solarz said. He said Salonga had asked him not to divulge details of the document, which Solarz said "firmly establishes the link between the Bernstein brothers . . . and president Marcos for the first time."
Shortly after Marcos fled his Malacanang presidential palace last week, a Washington Post reporter saw purchase documents for a 70-story office tower at 40 Wall St. in a file marked "PFM" -- initials commonly used here for "President Ferdinand Marcos" -- in a room in the palace.
Solarz said critics of his hearings repeatedly had complained "that we didn't have a smoking gun." He added, "I think the smoking gun is now available, and I believe that it will be presented in due course to the courts and the court of public opinion."
Solarz also said he had no doubt that "Mr. Marcos is a world-class corrupter." He said he promised Salonga that he would help in efforts to recover wealth illegally invested abroad by Marcos and those close to him.
The congressman said President Reagan's offer of asylum to Marcos and his family did not extend to immunity from suits to recover ill-gotten wealth. He said that upon his return to Washington, he would ask his subcommittee to take legal steps to gain control from customs officials of documents brought to Hawaii by the Marcoses when they fled their country in the face of a military-led popular revolt. He said the documents evidently include lists of property holdings and other assets in the United States.
Among other things, the Philippine government also is seeking to recover more than $1.2 million in Philippine pesos that the Marcoses and their entourage took out of the country in apparent violation of Central Bank regulations. Most of the money was found in Honolulu in boxes among the party's baggage, according to Customs Service officials.
The new government of President Corazon Aquino also is taking steps to revoke the passport of Vilma Bautista, who serves as a New York-based secretary to Marcos' wife, Imelda, and is listed as a Philippine diplomat attached to the United Nations. The government is concerned that Bautista may try to flee to avoid testifying about the Marcoses' properties.
In Washington, the administration has set up formal procedures for handling the voluminous documents Marcos brought to the United States, with a goal of safeguarding evidence for possible criminal or civil investigations here, several senior officials said.
The U.S. Customs Service is to complete an inventory of those documents this week, and a senior administration official said any records indicating that Marcos or his entourage violated U.S. laws in amassing their wealth will be referred to the Justice Department for investigation, Washington Post staff writer Dale Russakoff reported.
Those documents containing evidence being sought by foreign governments, as in the case of Aquino's probe into Marcos' wealth, would be referred to the State Department, according to the official.
At home, the government has begun trying to settle ownership claims to a major electric power plant in Manila and a network of six television and 21 radio stations, including the government television channel. The properties have been claimed by the Lopez family, whose leading members returned last week from self-exile in the United States and insisted on restitution of holdings they said were seized illegally under Marcos' 1972-81 martial-law rule.