Confiscated outbound to Hong Kong CX flight 902
in a package addressed to Imelda Marcos, carried onboard
by a Greek National. March 9, 1986

 
 

July 27th, 2001

This is just to set the record clear with some VALID information regarding this story. As far as I know, Christie’s was the first company to appraise this collection in Augsut of 1988. We were inside the office at Bangko Sentral where the appraisers from Christie's were handed the packets from the initial Bureau of Customs PCGG Photographer and agent opening the suitcases and boxes of jewelry at BangkoSentral de Pilipinas 1988List by Malacanang staff. There was Zenaida Bonifacio Customs Op Chief, from the cash division Naya Airport. from the Bur. of Customs, and a PCGG photographer. From Malacañang, Mercy Tuason and Mariel Tolentino from the Museo dept. and a Mrs. Paterno who would take the items out of the suitcases, compare them to the list, match the piece to the list, check it and then hand them the appraisers who had their own list to recheck. Only after the appraisers were done with each piece, could I photograph the next. The process took two days and we still had not gotten to the end of the inventory. There are over 60 pieces of jewelry and loose stones in the Roumeloites collection.  Some of the gem stones were staggeringly beautiful and manage to mesmerize me to this day when I see them on the web.

Mercy Tuason of Customs, in an interview told us that President Cory Aquino had three representatives from Customs and PCGG go Malacañang the night the Marcos’s fled in 1986, to make sure no items were illegally removed from the safe or closets etc. Scattered items were collected, initially

Diana Limjoco second from left, hair up, inside Bangko Central de Pilipinas-8-1988. Christie’s appraiser François Curiel far right in blue shirt, Bank staff, PCGG, BOC and Malacañang museo staff.
Diana Limjoco second from left, hair up, inside Bangko Central de Pilipinas-8-1988. Christie’s appraiser François Curiel far right in blue shirt, Bank staff, PCGG, BOC and Malacañang museo staff. Standing far right-the late Tony Tioseco, then head of PCGG ops.
inventoried and then taken to Bangko Sentral de Filipinas via armored truck. There were 2 PCGG representatives and someone came from Sycip, Gores and Vellayo Auditing Firm who then reopened the suitcases, re-inventoried and replaced the items in the suitcases to be stored at the vault at Bangko Central. The late Tony Tioseco of PCGG corroborated the story of the armored cars and was present at Central Bank during the inventory, and in fact they could not leave the bank for 3 days until the inventorying was done.

With my family and political network at that time, we learned of the collection. PCGG was only too glad to have a press release or story about how well they were doing in collecting ill gotten goods, especially so soon after the triumph of Edsa I. They were ridding on the coat tails of success.

We sent the story to Life, Time, Newsweek, etc etc, but because they were only alleged to belong to Imelda Marcos, and the shoes story was valid and hot, they declined to publish it. Since we had other projects of more interest we naturally then shelved the story.  We left the slides in our archives for 13 years, until I came across them one day last year and began wondering what had happened to them. I emailed the Office of the Vice President and President. Only the VP's Chief of Staff responded.
Diana Limjoco with ChristiésAppraisers, Malacanang staff, Pcgg staff and photographer djl at Bangko Sentral de Pilipinas
Diana Limjoco holding camera-center


We also still have the interview with Diaz and the FULL Bureau of Customs Inventory list of the over 60 piece Roumeloites COLLECTION.  As far as I know, we are the only ones with the full CUSTOMS LIST inventorying the complete Roumeloites Collection outside of the government and the various auction houses.

I personally spoke to former Christie’s appraiser Russel Fogarty in Beverly Hills last year, he said the Roumeloites collection had the highest dollar value, but he declined to give an amount.

One bracelet alone, a solitary marquise diamond of 30.56 cts still had a 1 million dollar price tag on it from Bulgari, NY.

There you have it, in a nutshell. Please scroll down to read the full story sent to me from a Philippine Star Opinion article on Gotcha by Jarius Bondoc. The statement by the Customs Commissioner that he would rather see the jewels "rot in hell than be sold" is ridiculous. Who is this person to deprive the Filipino people of the revenue from this jewelry collection?

Sincerely,
Diana Limjoco
Founder MCTV-Channel 15
Founder Digital Archives Vedanta Society Hollywood
CFO Digital Webgroup,Inc.

from the PHIL. STAR:
OPINION
Are $5.3-M Imelda jewels still in Customs vaults?
GOTCHA by Jarius Bondoc 07/21/2001


This is something for Haydee Yorac, new Presidential Commission on Good Government chairman, to look into. A metal box containing $5.3 million worth of jewelry should be lying somewhere in the vaults of the Bureau of Customs inside the Bangko Sentral compound. I said "should be" because that is what Customs records state. But whether the box is still there, or if the valuable contents are intact, is a matter for PCGG to ascertain. For, sometime during his presidential term, Joseph Estrada ordered two Customs officers to meet former First Lady Imelda Marcos at her Makati condo. He gave them specific instructions to accommodate her because "she only wants a few pieces (of jewelry) back, those that have sentimental value for her." Soon afterwards, one of the two officers was named deputy collector, with a promise of further promotion to Customs deputy commissioner had Estrada not resigned at the height of a people-power revolt last January. But that's getting ahead of our story.


Customs agents had confiscated the jewelry a few weeks after the first EDSA Revolt that toppled Ferdinand Marcos in February 1986. Greeks Demetrius Roumeliotes and his wife had tried to whisk the hoard out of Manila international airport under their name, but fled when the Customs men swooped in. Investigations and court cases showed that Imelda was the loot's true owner, and that the Roumeliotes couple were but her fronts. After a series of appeals, the Supreme Court ruled on July 18, 1994 that the forfeiture by Customs was legal ­ The Court of Tax Appeals issued on October 25, 1994 a writ of injunction, which meant that Customs could auction off the jewelry for much needed government revenues . Also, to cover the import duties on the entry of the gems in RP years before, as well as taxes due on them. All that time, Customs collection chief Zenaida Bonifacio held the key to the metal box at the vault. Three appraisals had been made of the jewelry. On April 17, 1986, Customs officer Alma Hilda Duplito valued the gems and precious metals at P104,934,750, plus taxes of P78,701,076, and duties of P52,467,375 ­ or a total of P236,103,203. PCGG commissioned Christies for a separate appraisal, but did not give Customs a copy of the report. When the cases were decided with finality in 1994, PCGG also tapped Sotheby's for a third valuation: a low of $3.864 million to a high of $5.315 million. That would be P193.2 million to P265.75 million in today's pesos; that is, if the currency would stabilize again at P50:$1 before July's rocket ride to P54. The last appraisal did not include taxes, duties, interests and surcharges, according to Bonifacio who watched Sotheby's European experts examine the jewels with sophisticated electronic gadgets.

Since the 1986 confiscation, PCGG officials had tried several times to get Customs to agree to a joint inventory and cataloguing of the jewels. On all occasions, certain interests and rules invoked by both sides prevented any cooperation. After the 1994 Supreme Court ruling, PCGG also asked Customs several times for a joint auction. The agency bosses would always come to an agreement, but somehow subordinates down the line managed to mess things up. If it was only turf war, Malacañang easily could have intervened, then credited the officers for a job well done and apportioned the revenues to both Customs operations and PCGG's beneficiaries under the agrarian reform law. But there was more than limelight space or revenue share involved. Customs officers still refuse to hold a joint auction, much less a new inventory under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. They cite myriads of supposed technical and legal kinks ­ all minor and easily solved, though. Weeks ago, a Malacañang official went to Bangko Sentral for a look-see of the jewelry and covering documents. Customs men refused to let the Malacañang official in. Higher and new Customs officials are wondering: Could it be because the jewels are no longer complete, or have been replaced with imitations?

Come to think of it, this is not something for Chairman Haydee alone to pursue. Perhaps, Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho should also step in, for at stake here are hundreds of millions of pesos the government direly needs for its anti-poverty programs. Perhaps Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo must also intervene to knock the heads of PCGG and Customs officials together, and tell them to stop dragging their feet but start moving. Ombudsman Aniano Desierto can also send investigators to find out why Customs officers have let not only the Imelda jewels but other confiscated contraband gather cobwebs in warehouses instead of selling them for operating cash. Those men have been remiss of their bounden duty to act with dispatch and to fidelity in the custody of state assets.

The task of overseeing the immediate auction of the Imelda jewels lies with Customs district collector Celso P. Templo at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. He has been at the post since Estrada's time. Last February 28, he wrote a memo to the Customs chief explaining the disposition of the jewelry. In it, he detailed the cases that Customs had to pursue, and attempts by predecessors to stop joint auctions with the PCGG. In the same breath, however, he cited even more technicalities to discourage any forthcoming auction. Subordinates are wondering why Templo, in several recent meetings, said he'd rather "let the jewels rot than be sold." Perhaps Templo anticipates a stink, or knows something about the present state of the jewels. If he has nothing to do with any potential loss or replacement of the loot, he has nothing to fear either. The hoard was in the custody of his subordinates Bonifacio, Oscar Brillo and Cosme Sekito. Templo can ask them about Estrada's directive to meet with Imelda. Then again, things have been a mess under Templo. It was during his watch that P300 million worth of confiscated goods were stolen from Customs warehouses at the airport. These include video-CDs, cellphones, Rolex watches, two-way radios, even rubber shoes that an official of the mayors' league took out during Estrada's term for distribution to his members. (Walang patawad, as they say in Tagalog, but that's another story about a chain smoking, overeating young man with hypertension and high cholesterol.) It was also under Templo that crates of goods confiscated years prior were opened and yielded sand and rocks. It was also under him that the officer in charge of the warehouse was replaced without proper turnover and inventory. But back to the $5.315 -million worth of jewelry, higher officials can bypass Templo and check if the contraband is still intact for auction. No sentimental reasons involved there, I'm sure. by Jarius Bondoc
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
PAGE One OF THE Bureau of Customs inventory list (Retyped for clarity)- Scanned COPY of original customs copy available upon request.

April 17, 1986
INVENTORY OF ASSORTED JEWELRY OF ONE DEMETRIOS ROUMELOITES - PASSENGER BOUND FOR HongKong on CX flight 902

March 9, 1986
Envelope No. 1

  • 1A. One pair earring each with one South Sea pearl with one emerald cut diamond approx. 2cts in white, approximately.
  • B. One (1) piece mounted diamond approx. 20. pts. Approx.
  • C. One (1) piece emerald pear-shaped pendant with one tiny diamond on tip and 9 tiny diamond on tip and 9 diamonds on crest, approx.>
  • 2A. One pair dangling earrings each with yellowish diamond (fancy cut) approx. 10 carats with one 75. diamond with diamond chispas in wg setting approx.
  • 2B. One (1) pair dangling earring each with one heart shaped yellow diamond approx 5 carats with one marquise cut yellow diamond approx. one carat with one fancy cut ( barrel shaped ) dangling diamond, approx. 10 carats each in yg setting each (Van Cleef and Arpels SR#3804, approx.
  • 3. One (1) piece bracelet approx one inch 2cms (wide) x 7 inches .2 long, with 6 south sea pearls (black gray bluish gray brownish gray) with 6 marquise cut diamond approx. 75 each with baguettes (21 pcs. Approx. .25c) and round diamond ( 40 pcs. Approx. .25 each, 24 pcs. Approx 20, 144 chispas ) in wg setting, approx.
  • 4. One (1) piece clasp n yg setting stuffed with tiny diamonds approx.
  • 5. One (1) piece brooch with south Sea pearls, irregular, dangling, studded with diamonds, rubies, blue sapphire and emerald in ribbon from yg setting, Marking: 750, approx.
  • 6. One (1) pair clip earring each with 5 dangling pear shaped (fancy cut) diamonds each approx. 1.5 cts. & ww pcs. Round diamonds approx. 20 to .30 each with markings (Bulgari NY C285)
  • 7A. One (1) pair clip earrings each with center round ruby with 10 diamonds with markings Van Clef & Arpels NY SR #16912(585) Yellow gold 40 pts each diamond= 8 cts. Ruby, approx
  • B. One (1) piece clip earring with center oval ruby with 14 diamonds .20 each in yg setting, 10 cts. Ruby, approx.
  • 8. One (1) set ring·-earrings (ring·"bigger pearl than earrings) In yg setting each with center South Sea pearls surrounded with 6 (ring ea. .40 carats) round diamonds (markings 18K 750) earrings" 5 diamonds round .20 carats), approx.
  • 9. One (1) pair wg dangling earrings with one 4 cts. dangle diamond football shaped (fancy cut -with one (1) carat diamond each on top with .3 PCs. each chispas, approx.
  • 10. Loose 68 pcs. Assorted sizes red rubies with markings of 4.15 ct." on wrapper, approx.
 
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The photos on this site are from the private photo collection of Diana J. Limjoco. All rights reserved copyright 2005-2012
The photos on this site were given to Diana Limjoco as an exclusive photography session by PCGG as it’s measure then towards a transparent government in 1988. There are many more pieces NOT displayed on this site in Diana’s private photo collection- The Jewelry of Imelda Marcos.

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