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Philippines to put up for sale seized Marcos property, jewelry

[MANILA] Jewelry, property and stocks confiscated from the Philippines former dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his family following his ouster 30 years ago will be put up for sale, government officials said on Monday.

Marcos fled to Hawaii in 1986 following a near bloodless popular revolt, known as "People Power". He had ruled the Philippines for 20 years, during which time his family amassed an estimated US$10 billion.

Sources at the finance ministry said the government is looking to raise at least 838.85 million pesos (US$17.70 million) from the sale of two real estate properties, company shares, and the jewelry. "Proceeds from the sale will go to the Bureau of Treasury and Philippine Commission on Good Government," Gil Beltan, deputy finance secretary, told reporters, referring to the agency established to track down the Marcoses' fortune.

About 300 pieces of jewelry, including a rare 25-carat barrel-shaped pink diamond, are among the assets that will be auctioned. The three jewelry collections, which had been kept in a vault at the central bank, have been appraised by international auction houses, Christie's and Sotheby's.

The government had tried to auction the three jewelry collections in 2005 but the late dictator's widow Imelda Marcos contested the move, claiming ownership of two of the sets. One was found in the presidential palace after her family's hasty departure and another was seized in Hawaii, where they lived in exile.

Imelda Marcos, now an elected member of Congress, is best known for leaving behind more than 1,200 pairs of shoes when she and her late husband fled. She has vowed to recover her family's seized assets.

Ferdinand Marcos died in exile in 1989. Their only son, Ferdinand Junior, is a senator. He is running for vice president in the May election and latest independent polls showed him to be a top contender.