The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) assured the people that the jewelry collection of former first lady Imelda Marcos is intact, dispelling rumors that it had been replaced while stored at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) head office in Manila.
Speaking for the collection under their custody, PCGG commissioner Andrew de Castro said all jewelry in the original list are accounted for and have been appraised by foreign experts from rival auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s.
He also denied rumors that some jewels had been replaced by fake ones, saying appraisers have not found anything to that effect when they inspected the so-called Hawaii Collection on Monday.
The Hawaii Collection, composed of around 300 pieces of jewelry and other luxury items, is one of three collections confiscated from the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
US Customs officials seized the items from the Marcoses when they arrived in Hawaii following the EDSA People Power revolt in February 1986.
The collection was later declared to be under the custody of the PCGG, by virtue of an agreement with the former first lady.
The other two collections, known as the Roumeliotes and the Malacañang collections, are under the custody of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Office of the President, respectively.
The Roumeliotes collection, composed of only around 60 pieces of jewelry but deemed to be the most expensive among the three, was seized from alleged Marcos crony Demetriou Roumeliotes as he tried to smuggle it out of the country.
It was later forfeited in favor of the BOC, for violation of the Tariff and Customs Code.
Meanwhile, the Malacañang collection is composed of over 400 pieces of jewelry and other luxury items that were left in Malacañang after the EDSA revolution.
The Sandiganbayan declared in 2014 that the collection was part of the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses.
The ruling is currently under appeal at the Supreme Court.
All three collections have been stored in a high-security vault at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for almost three decades.
Allegations earlier floated that some of the jewels have been replaced by fake ones.
However, De Castro stressed that the collections are under tight security as four keys are needed to open the vault. These keys are with the PCGG, BOC, Office of the President and the Commission on Audit.
The PCGG earlier signed a memorandum of understanding with the BOC to proceed with the appraisal of the collections under their custody.
The Office of the President later allowed Malacañang to be included in the weeklong appraisal, which is being conducted by representatives from the rival auction houses for free.
PCGG chairman Richard Amurao earlier said that the appraisal is a significant step to finally assess the collection and determine its current value.
“This will open the way for determining a final resolution on the assets, including the possible auction of the same,” he added.
A previous appraisal conducted in 1991 showed that the value of the three collections was estimated between $6 million to $8 million.
De Castro declined to give an estimate of the total value now as the appraisal is still ongoing. He said, however, that they expect it to significantly increase. - Janvic Mateo