In order to raise funds for the government’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Malacañang said that it is considering selling jewelry confiscated from former First Lady Imelda Marcos.
Amounting to approximately P700 million, the pieces of jewelry that belong to three gem collections—Malacañan, Roumeliotes and Hawaii—are allegedly part of the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth and were all retrieved and confiscated back in 1986.
Named after where they were confiscated, the three jewelry collections that are now government assets are estimated to have at least P1 billion appraisal value.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that selling the pieces had been discussed even before the COVID-19 outbreak. In fact, President Duterte gave the green light for its public auction in May 2019, noting that “what’s important is that the sales or proceeds benefit the public.”
The Palace’s consideration of auctioning off the jewelry as a COVID-19 fundraiser comes after the president said that he was open to selling government assets such as the Philippine International Convention Center, the Cultural Center of the Philippines and other properties on Roxas Boulevard to continue financing the government’s efforts against coronavirus, which has so far infected over 5,000 Filipinos.
Previously, Senator Imee Marcos proposed a temporary suspension of loan payments to foreign lenders in order to assist more families and companies affected by the COVID-19 crisis. However, this was dismissed by both the Palace and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
According to Roque, the government still has enough funds for now, which makes Marcos’ proposal unnecessary. Adding that it is not being considered by the government as an option due to the bigger consequences it might pose. He noted that if the time comes that the money “is not enough, the government will first sell its assets before we default on our obligations.”
In 2018, the Presidential Commission on Good Government also sent a proposal to the Office of the President to sell the Hawaii collection, which is currently under their custody and kept at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
Among the 300 pieces in the collection are a Cartier diamond tiara and a 25-carat “extremely rare” pink diamond estimated to be worth at least $5 million or around P237 million.
Header photo from Inquirer.net
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Writer: YANN MAGCAMIT