The jewelery, including a 150 carat giant Burmese ruby and diamond tiara, is locked in a vault at the central bank, and at one point the international auction house Christie’s estimated it could fetch up to US$8.5 million.
More recently Bautista worked closely with the New York district attorney’s office to charge a former personal secretary of Imelda and two others over a conspiracy to sell a Monet painting that had been bought by the family.
Marcos, an astute art buyer, distributed the priceless collection of at least 300 artworks to cronies when his regime was about to crumble. Only half have been recovered so far and the rest are missing, Bautista said.
The official said he had recommended to Benigno Aquino that the commission wind down its operations, and transfer its work to the justice department.
If the president agrees he would have to get parliament to pass a law abolishing the agency.
“They [the Marcos family] have the resources to go head-to-head with us in respect to litigation. Why do you think forfeiture cases are still languishing 26 years after?” Bautista said.
The agency’s annual budget of less than 100 million pesos was only enough to pay its staff of about 200, many of them young lawyers who turned down high paying jobs elsewhere, he added.
“It’s a lonely job. It doesn’t win you any friends,” he said.