MANILA – The Philippine government has approved the public exhibit and auction of the jewelry collection of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ widow Imelda, a stash that international experts have appraised to be worth at least 1 billion pesos ($21 million), officials said Monday.
The hoard was seized when Marcos and his family fled to Hawaii in 1986 following a popular revolt that ended his two decades in power. They include a 25-carat, barrel-shaped diamond worth at least $5 million and a Cartier diamond tiara that is now many times more valuable than the previous estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.
Andrew de Castro of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, an agency tasked to recover the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth, said they hope to hold the exhibit and auction before the end of President Benigno Aquino III’s term in June, when the terms for the current members of the commission also end.
The government’s Privatization Council headed by the Department of Finance last week approved the sale of the jewelry. A portion of the collection seized at the presidential palace when the Marcoses fled, however, is still being contested in court. Other pieces of jewelry were seized in Hawaii and at Manila’s airport.
“The jewelry confiscated from the Marcoses remains a singular manifestation of the misguided priorities of the Marcos presidency during his reign,” commission Chairman Richard Amurao said Friday.