Sat, Jun 14, 2008 - Page 7 News List

US Supreme Court decides against Philippine victims

AGENCIES , WASHINGTON AND MANILA

The US Supreme Court ruled on Thursday against nearly 10,000 victims of human rights abuses during the regime of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a dispute over US$35 million in an account he held.

The decision was a victory for the government in Manila, which had argued the dispute over the money must be dismissed from the US court system and should be settled in Philippine courts.

Narciso Nario, commissioner of the Philippines’ Presidential Commission on Good Government, said he was confident the decision would pave the way for the turnover of the money to the Philippine government.

The justices overturned a ruling by a US appeals court based in California that had sided with the victims. The high court decided the case must be dismissed.

“We are disappointed that there will be another delay in distribution of the money to the Filipino victims,” Robert Swift, one of the lawyers of the human rights victims, said in a statement.

Swift disputed the Philippine commission’s interpretation that the US Supreme Court decision automatically rewarded the money to the Philippine government, saying: “The money will revert to Merrill Lynch and remain in the United States.”

Marcos, who ruled the Philippines for two decades, and his family are accused of stealing up to US$10 billion. Only a fraction of that amount has been recovered.

The dispute involved a New York brokerage account at Merrill Lynch & Co that Marcos set up in 1972 in the name of a suspected dummy corporation with a US$2 million deposit.

The amount in the account has grown to more than US$35 million.

Lawyers for the victims argued they should get the US$35 million as part of a US$2 billion judgment in US courts against the Marcos estate over human rights abuses under his rule.

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