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Aquino government cashes in on Marcos property

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Philippines Friday sold for $1 million a Princeton-area estate that once was owned by former President Ferdinand Marcos and turned over to the Aquino government by a New Jersey court.

It was the first sale of a Marcos property in the United States since the Commission on Good Government was formed by Philippine President Corazon Aquino to recover the allegedly ill-gotten foreign holdings of the former president, lawyers in the case said.

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Consul General Francisco Rodrigo Jr. of the Philippine consulate in New York signed the home and 13-acre property over to a New Jersey real estate investment company, ending a 16-month effort to wrest the property from Marcos and sell it.

He received a check for $1,002,685.22, which includes a small amount of money from other related transactions. Commissions and back taxes were paid by the buyer.

Rodrigo and lawyers for the Philippines also announced that a federal judge in New York has approved a settlement reached with one of the alleged Marcos middlemen named in a similar case there.

The settlement will result in the transfer of $5.25 million in New York City and Long Island real estate to the Philippines, lawyer Jeffrey J. Greenbaum said.

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Rodrigo said he was 'grateful' for the assistance of the U.S. courts and said the outcome of the cases restored his faith in American justice.

The purchaser of the property, in Lawrence Township outside Princeton, was identified as Jersey Development Corp. of Nutley, N.J. The two principals did not say how they intend to use the property, Greenbaum said.

Marcos bought the Lawrence propertythrough an intermediary in 1975 to be the home of his daughter, Imee, while she studied at Princeton University.

Marcos and his family fled the Philippines on Feb. 25, 1986, after a civilian-backed miltary uprising swept Aquino into office.

A Mercer County Superior Court judge in September 1986 awarded to the Aquino government the house and property as well as bank accounts and other assets.

Judge Paul Levy ruled that 'the funds and the property rightfully belong to the Philippine government.' He said there was 'hard evidence' that the assets were purchased for Marcos with money siphoned from the Philippine treasury.

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