Jewelry brought to the United States by deposed Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos and his family and entourage and impounded by the U.S. Customs Service has been appraised for the service as worth more than $4.1 million.
A 23-page inventory of the Marcos party's luggage shows that hundreds of pieces of jewelry, dozens of watches worth a total of more than $80,000, five handguns, two religious statues and 154 videotapes were in the 90-member group's baggage on arrival in Honolulu Feb. 26.
The list was released here yesterday by the Presidential Commission on Good Government, appointed by President Corazon Aquino to investigate and try to recover wealth that Marcos acquired illegally during his 20 years in power.
[In Washington, a U.S. government source said that in a later reappraisal, the jewelry brought to Hawaii was estimated at more than $9 million.]
The most costly item on the list, a matched bracelet, earrings and brooch of sapphires, diamonds and rubies, was appraised at $1.49 million. The total estimated value of all the jewelry in the brown alligator bag in which this set was found was $2.84 million.
Journalists who entered the private quarters of Marcos' wife, Imelda, shortly after the party fled the palace aboard U.S. helicopters on Feb. 25 found a number of jewelry boxes lying open and empty. However, the list did not specify ownership by individuals.
The list also shows that the group brought Philippine currency worth about $1.27 million and peso-denominated certificates of deposit worth about $2.27 million. The only U.S. currency shown is $1,570.
The list was released as Aquino, a member of one of the country's major land-owning families, issued a financial statement showing her personal net worth at about $865,000. It included a house in Massachusetts, where she lived with her husband, Benigno, in exile until 1983, when he returned to the Philippines and was assassinated.
On Wednesday, the commission confirmed that criminal proceedings had begun against Marcos, his wife, their three children and 21 close associates of the ex-president.
Allegations that the defendants accumulated wealth of at least $5 billion through graft and corruption were contained in a complaint filed with the commission by the Philippines' chief prosecutor. The commission is to conduct hearings at a still unannounced date to determine whether formal indictment is warranted.
The prosecutor rushed the complaint out due to legal requirements of Switzerland. Authorities there had frozen Marcos' assets in Swiss banks but said the freeze would be lifted shortly unless criminal proceedings were begun.
Commission member Pedro Yap flew this week to Switzerland, where he is to initiate proceedings in local courts. The commission is also planning to send investigators to Japan, where companies have been accused of paying kickbacks to Marcos and others.
While the government is pursuing criminal charges, it also has been saying that it is willing to discuss a negotiated settlement with the Marcoses in which what it calls "ill-gotten" wealth would be returned voluntarily in exchange for amnesty. Marcos has denied wrongdoing and having major wealth.