WASHINGTON — The Administration turned over to the Philippines today a box filled with documents that Manila's investigator said should help trace "the extent of the plunder" by deposed President Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Copies of 2,300 pages of documents, which were spirited out of the Philippines with Marcos last month, were also being given to a House subcommittee and were turned over to lawyers for Marcos.
Jovito Salonga, a former Philippines senator and head of a commission seeking to recover Marcos "hidden wealth," picked up a cardboard box full of documents early today at the State Department.
'Waiting for 20 Years'
"I have been waiting for this hour since the last 20 years," a beaming Salonga told reporters as he left the State Department to sort through the papers. "Now that we have it, I am a little thankful.
"As you can see, this is not very bulky, but it was the subject of tremendous controversy, which is probably an indication of the importance of these documents," Salonga told reporters at the State Department as an aide stood by holding the gray-covered cardboard box full of papers.
"We hope they will give us a fair indication of the extent of the plunder of the nation's wealth."
Salonga has estimated Marcos's "hidden wealth," accumulated during 20 years in power, at between $5 billion and $10 billion. He said the "greater bulk" is in secret Swiss bank accounts.
The documents were flown out of Manila on a U.S. Air Force cargo plane after Marcos, his wife, Imelda, and 88 others fled on other American military aircraft. Marcos remains in seclusion at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.
Seized With Crates of Pesos
The papers, believed to detail the assets diverted by Marcos before he fled his homeland, were seized by U.S. Customs Service agents in Hawaii Feb. 26 along with 22 crates of freshly minted Philippine pesos and other valuables.
State Department spokesman Bernard Kalb said documents determined not to be "purely personal" were turned over to Salonga at a meeting with Under Secretary of State Michael Armacost.
Kalb said that the department will not publicly release copies of the documents and that the Philippine government has agreed to use the documents for "legitimate governmental purposes only" and to handle them with "appropriate sensitivity."
State Department officials said, however, there would be little the department could do to prevent Salonga from making them public if he chooses. "But we expect them to honor their commitment," a senior official said.
Panel Subpoenas Papers
The House Foreign Affairs Asian Pacific affairs subcommittee, headed by Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.), voted 6 to 0 to subpoena the same documents.
Solarz told his colleagues, "I have been informed by the Administration that they will comply, that we will receive the documents within a few hours."
Solarz said most of the documents probably will be released to the public.
Attorneys for Marcos had sought unsuccessfully in federal courts in New York and Honolulu to keep the documents from being turned over to Salonga.
The Administration argued that releasing the papers would help establish good relations with the new government of Corazon Aquino.
Judge Dominick DiCarolo of the U.S. Court of International Trade ruled in New York Monday that two former associates of Marcos who had sought to block release of the documents had no standing to sue, and said the papers could be provided to the Philippines and to Solarz's panel.