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Marcos on apology to rights victims: That's personal for Marcos family

The matter of apologizing to the human rights victims under Martial Law is "a personal matter to the Marcos family," President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said on Monday.

As to his family's ill-gotten wealth cases, the President added that it would be "highly improper" if he were to involve himself on the matter.

At the 50th presidential forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, Marcos was asked if would continue resisting issuing an apology for atrocities committed under Martial Law.

“I don’t think it’s a duty for a president to be involved. That is a personal matter for the Marcos family,” Marcos said at the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines' 50th Anniversary Presidential Forum.

While he is a member of the family, the president said his “role as president is more important right now than my role as a member of the Marcos family.”

“So, I take that, that’s my first priority,” he said.

Asked if he will apologize on behalf of the Marcoses, the President said, “That seems highly a little contrived…. Who is apologizing to whom now?”

The president’s father, the late former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. signed Proclamation No. 1081 on September 21, 1972, placing the Philippines under Martial Law.

According to data from the Human Rights Victims’ Memorial Commission, more than 11,103 victims suffered from violations of human rights.

A total of 2,326 victims of enforced disappearance were recorded.

Ill-gotten wealth cases

Meanwhile, asked which side he would represent in ill-gotten wealth cases such as the $40-million Arelma assets suit given that the Office of the Solicitor General and the Presidential Commission on Good Government were under his office, Marcos said he was not involving himself in these suits.

"The previous cases that were filed post-1986, I have not touched. It would be highly improper for me to involve myself in that. Besides, I don't have time to do it. So I leave it to the lawyers," Marcos said.

The President added that he had not heard of the Arelma case for a long time and that he had not been attending to it.

"It's hard for me to answer you... I really haven't looked at it in years and I would advise you to talk to the lawyers that are handling it because, I'm not being specious or anything like that, matagal ko nang hindi naririnig 'yung pangalan na Arelma. We were still in Hawaii when we were hearing that name. So we haven't really been attending to it," Marcos said, referring to his family's exile in Honolulu.

The President's father, then President Marcos Sr., was said to have made an initial deposit of $2 million at Merrill Lynch, allegedly from one of his Swiss dollar accounts, on the same day Marcos Sr. declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972.

The account was placed in the name of Arelma Inc.

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled with finality that the Arelma funds were illegally acquired and should be returned to the government. —NB/DVM, GMA Integrated News