MANILA — Philippine President Corazon Aquino on Saturday called a U.S. court indictment of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos a "powerful deterrent" to rulers who think they are above the law.
Marcos and his wife, Imelda, were charged in New York on Friday in a racketeering scheme alleged to have involved stealing millions from the Philippine treasury and defrauding American banks for personal gain.
In a statement, Aquino praised the U.S. action, saying efforts by foreign countries to investigate "the crimes of the Marcoses will lead to the early recovery of stolen assets that rightfully belong to the Filipino people.
"The fact that the Marcoses are being brought to justice will serve as a powerful deterrent to all those who believe themselves above the law and those who would abuse the public trust for private gain," Aquino said.
Manila officials have accused Marcos and his associates of plundering up to $10 billion from the economy during his 20-year rule, which ended in 1986 when he was overthrown by a military-led popular revolt and Aquino became head of state.
Marcos could face up to 20 years' imprisonment if convicted, said officials of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, a Philippine agency tracking down Marcos-linked assets in the Philippines and abroad.
The government has filed civil suits before a local court seeking damages of up to $100 billion against Marcos and his "cronies." It is also preparing criminal charges against the former president for alleged corruption.