Republic of the Philippines v. Marcos – International Human Rights and Solidarity – CCR Docket 1987-1988

On February 25, 1986, Ferdinand Marcos and his party fled the Philippines, thereby ending his twenty-year dictatorship. Sev­enty-two hours later, CCR attorneys were retained by the new government to recover any of the illegally amassed booty hidden in the United States. Within three days, the CCR obtained the first court order freezing some of those assets in New York. At the same time, CCR embarked on a nationwide legal campaign, with the assistance of numerous volunteer attor­neys, to locate and return Marcos’ ill-got­ ten fortune.

Marcos’ activities violated Philippine laws and also caused a massive drain on the Philippine economy. The total amount of money stolen may equal or exceed the $30 billion Philippine national debt.

The major legal action against Marcos was begun in New York State court to restrain the sale of four properties in New York City and one in Nassau County. The court granted a temporary restraining order. Defendants removed the matter to federal court where the CCR obtained a preliminary injunction.

The Second Circuit sustained the district court’s injunction. The United States Supreme Court denied a petition for a writ of certiorari. The New York courts in effect held that if a dictator is charged with fleecing his coun­try, and a reasonable basis for the charge appears to exist, the proceeds of his theft located within a court’s jurisdiction can be frozen until such time as a Philippine court has a chance to adjudicate the charges.

With the basic legal issues resolved in favor of the plaintiff, the CCR has helped to find other counsel to follow through on the detailed real estate litigation that remains to be done.

Morton Stavis, Peter Weiss, Michael Ratner; with CCR cooperating attorneys Severina Rivera, Juan Saavedra-Castro, Franklin Siegel, Ralph Shapiro, Mahlon F. Perkins, Jr.; Ellen Fishman, Mary Zaslofsky