Marcos' Millions

A federal appeals court in San Francisco has ruled that thousands of Filipinos can share $35 million in a New York brokerage account that belonged to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The Philippine government claimed the money belonged to its treasury, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it had no legal right to the account, which Marcos opened in 1972 with a $2 million deposit.

The ruling was part of a 10-year financial battle for 9,500 Filipinos, most of them living in the Philippines, who sought compensation from the dictator's regime to settle human rights abuses.

The plaintiffs filed a class-action suit against the Marcos estate in 1986, the year he was deposed as president after ruling for 20 years. Marcos and his family fled to Hawaii, where he died in exile in 1989.

In 1995, using a two-century-old U.S. law, a Honolulu jury awarded the group $2 billion after finding Marcos responsible for summary executions, disappearances and torture.

So far, none of the award has been distributed because it has been tied up by foreign banks and the Philippine government claiming ownership. The original award is nearing $4 billion with interest.

Last year, the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit appeals court, which covers Hawaii and eight other western states, ruled that the 9,500 plaintiffs have no right to recover $683 million in Marcos assets that were transferred from a Swiss account to the Philippine government, which claimed ownership of the money.

The plaintiffs also are pursuing other avenues to collect the judgment.

They are trying to seize $22 million in Marcos assets located in a bank in Singapore, and other properties in various countries.