A legal battle is looming in Singapore over $25 million which allegedly belonged to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The lawyers representing rival claimants to the money, held in Singapore, met with a high court judge for the second time in three days to discuss how to proceed with their claims.
It was agreed during the brief in chambers meeting that they would now undertake preparatory work ahead of an eventual court hearing, the lawyers said.
“The argument is all about who in the end is entitled to the money,” Kenneth Tan, a senior legal counsel who is representing more than 9,500 victims of human rights abuses during Marcos’ rule, told AFP.
Justice Kan Ting Chiu has not yet set a date for a hearing.
Besides the rights victims, other claimants include the Philippine government and the Philippine National Bank as well as four foundations alleged to be Marcos fronts.
Last year, Singapore’s highest court rejected an appeal by the Philippine government to take hold of the money.
Singapore’s Court of Appeal affirmed an earlier ruling by a high court judge who said the Philippine government must prove that it owns the bank deposits in the face of competing claims from other parties.
The appeal court has said the $25 million held in escrow is the remainder of some $100 million in Marcos funds deposited in a bank in Singapore.
The rest had been transferred to the Philippine government in 2003 before rival claims had been lodged, it said.
Marcos was toppled in a popular revolt in 1986 and died in exile in Hawaii in 1989. He was accused of plundering billions of dollars from his country, but his family denies the accusation.
More than 500 civil and criminal suits have been filed worldwide against members of Marcos’s family and his estate.
Despite years of hearings and investigations, no Marcos relative has been sent to jail, but human rights victims won a judgement for damages in a Hawaii court, which forms the basis of their claim to the assets in Singapore.