The Philippine Daily Inquirer (August 26, 1999)

''WELCOME to the missing Marcos billions.'' The treasure hunt is now on the Web.

As Internet surfers checked out the new website , the President yesterday dismissed reports about an alleged new deal with the Marcoses as pure speculation.

''I do not bother with baseless, empty speculation because if I did, I would be wasting my time,'' the President said in Pilipino in a dzBB interview. Though it was Imelda Marcos who had claimed on Monday that a settlement deal would be completed ''very soon,'' Mr. Estrada took a shot at newspapers for picking up the story. Asked if he would ''discipline'' Marcos for bragging about the supposed deal, he said in Pilipino: ''I think she has also the right to talk.'' He also said freedom of expression was one of the rights of Filipinos in a democracy.

He added: ''If newspapers want to buy her story, let them go ahead and write about it. Maybe the newspapers don't have anything to write about.''

The website was launched two weeks ago in the United States by Australian investigator Reiner Jacobi and one of his lawyers, David Chaikin. It traces developments on the controversial $13.2-billion ''I. Arenetta'' account and other Marcos assets. The site is said to be the most comprehensive cyberlook at the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their cronies. It details the history of the players in the treasure hunt, as well as the alleged role of the US government in the game.

Conspiracists will have a ball. The site describes alleged efforts by Swiss authorities and bankers to hide the loot--with the knowledge of the Marcoses--and the Philippine government's attempts to get it, including President Estrada's purportedly secret ''Project Recovery.'' Named as ''Marcos Opponents/Gold Trackers'' are the triumvirate of Jacobi, Chaikin and former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez.

The site also includes developments in the ongoing Senate hearings on the secret Marcos accounts. White veil Plastered on the background of the introductory page of the website is a picture of a young Imelda Marcos wearing a white veil. ''This site is being published due to the attempts to suppress the free press of the Philippines. This site is being complemented by a comprehensive documentary site which will cover the Marcos dictatorship and the tracing and recovery of the illicit assets of the Marcoses and their cronies,'' the page announces.

The heading of the main page reads: ''The People of the Philippines vs. Marcos and the Swiss Banks.'' Part of a brief ''history'' declares: ''Here we identify the main players in Switzerland and the Philippines and Philippines who have conspired to conceal at least US$13.2 billion of Marcos assets. ''Reiner Jacobi's revelations have touched a raw nerve with President Estrada who is now suppressing the hitherto free press of the Republic of the Philippines.'' Links

Main topics are organized under these headings: ''The Missing Marcos Billions; Dramatis Personae; UBS (Union Bank of Switzerland'' Penetrated; Swiss DA Caught Lying; Blue Ribbon Senate Committee; the US Connection.'' The site also includes links to other Internet sites like Philippine news services, including the INQUIRER, and those with information on the underground warehouse in Kloten airport in Zurich (where 1,241 tons of Marcos gold are believed to be stashed) and on UBS.

There is another link to a site about the Holocaust gold which was also concealed by UBS officials. That site includes updates on the claims of Jews whose properties, assets and jewelry were confiscated by the Nazis and deposited in various Swiss banks. The site also includes INQUIRER special reports on the $13.2-billion ''I. Arenetta'' account and on Project Recovery. Conspiracy theory Under ''Dramatis Personae,'' the members of the Marcos family are linked to various secret accounts.

There is also a cast of Marcos supporters in Switzerland, including a couple of Swiss district attorneys. The website also provides a brief history of various chairmen of the Presidential Commission on Good Government. The Americans are there, too, led by US lawyer Robert Swift and US District Judge Manuel Real, two of the main characters in the continuing saga of 9,539 human rights abuse victims and their quest for justice.

The webpage titled ''US connection'' brings Marcos' financial contributions to US politicians, including former US President Ronald Reagan, into the supposed conspiracy. It claims there were sensitive documents, detailing Marcos' political payments, which were seized in 1986 by US Customs and kept hidden from the American public.

''Monies from the Philippine intelligence funds were channeled through cut-out companies for election campaigns of several Presidential candidates and various California politicians,'' the page reads. It adds that Marcos also blackmailed US politicians by ''deliberately transmit(ti ng) US-aid money back to their election war chests.''
Marcos Loot Hunt Now On The Web
By Donna S. Cueto Juliet Javellana
(Donated by: Bill Luttig)
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