'WE OWN PH'

In a 1998 interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, former First Lady Imelda Marcos was quoted as saying that “we practically own everything in the Philippines—from electricity, telecommunications, airline, banking, beer and tobacco, newspaper publishing, television stations, shipping, oil and mining, hotels and beach resorts, down to coconut milling, small farms, real estate and insurance.” 

 

PERSONAL PIGGY BANK

That she had the gall to admit about their family’s immense wealth despite its questionable origins many years after they were driven out of Malacanang Palace, was tantamount to admitting that they indeed turned the national treasury into their personal piggy bank during the time that her husband former President and Dictator Ferdinand Marcos was in power. 

Various investigations conducted by different groups including that of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) indicated that the Marcoses took around $5 billion to $10 billion fortune during their years in Malacanang Palace. 

 

SAD TRUTH

The sad truth however despite the mountains of evidence hurled against them, not a single member of the Marcos family as well as their cronies was ever convicted from the piles of graft and plunder cases filed against them and consequently not one of them got to spend even a single second behind bars.

To justify her earlier statements that their family owned almost the entire Philippines, Imelda said in a 1999 interview that that her ‘brilliant’ husband got rich from gold trading, investments and other businesses and said the former dictator planned to use the bulk of their money for development projects to help the poor people in the country.

 

BACK IN POWER

In one of his famous quotations about the nature and character of men, eminent Greek philosopher Socrates said “he who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have”.

Political analysts and observers noted the saying could apply to the Marcoses who aside from evading jail time through their scheming and maneuverings are back with a vengeance with almost all of them holding various positions of power in the government.

 

NOTHING LIKE MALACANANG

But despite all the power and freedom that they currently enjoy, the Marcoses know that there is nothing like being back in Malacanang Palace.

While Imelda keeps on saying that their family’s lost honor and prestige would only be redeemed if they could return to the palace, many people know that it was not the real reason why they badly wanted to take back the seat of power.  

Well meaning political observers know that the primary reason why Imelda and her clan wanted to be back in Malacanang so bad, is because it’s the only way they could take back the billions of dollars their family had invested in the country and in foreign soils.

 

BEST BET

It is no surprise therefore that they are trying to move heaven and earth just to ensure the victory of Sen. Bongbong Marcos in the vice presidential race against Rep. Leni Robredo.

The Marcoses know that Bongbong is their best bet if they ever have any chance of returning to the palace because his victory would mean that he is just one step away from Malacanang.

As reported in our previous issue, Bongbong’s strong showing at the current elections where he is battling Rep. Robredo in a virtual photo finish should not come as a surprise because it is a product of a long and meticulously thought game plan. 

While Robredo who is not a politician only decided to run a few months before the filing of certificates of candidacy, Marcos on the other hand was already gearing up for a political battle as early as five years ago. 

 

PLANS IN PERIL

However, as the official count of the ballots cast during the last elections got going after members of both Houses of Congress convened as National Board of Canvassers on Wednesday, it appeared that the Marcoses’ plans are in peril of being dashed.

Robredo continues to lead over Bongbong despite efforts by his lawyers to delay the proceedings by asking the body to canvass the votes for President and Vice President separately.

The joint committee promptly shot down the motion and the count proceeded, and the canvassing committee ending its first session after opening 48 certificates of canvass (COCs) and canvassing 45 with Robredo in the lead with 3,576,643 votes. 

Marcos was only good for second with 3,281,151 votes as of press time.

 

NO TORRENT LIKE GREED

Gautama Buddha had said that “there is no fire like passion, there is no shark like hatred, there is no snare like folly and there is no torrent like greed. 

To cover their tracks on how they obtained their vast wealth, the Marcoses conjured an enduring urban legend about the so-called Golden Buddha.

It told about a three-foot-high Golden Buddha stashed with diamonds and other gems, hundreds of gold bars and other valuables accumulated by Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita during World War II as booty was hidden shortly before the end of war. 

Rogelio Roxas a poor locksmith reportedly found the Buddha and gold in a tunnel near a hospital in 1971 but Marcos forcibly took it from him and had it stored away in a Swiss vault. 

 

ACCUMULATED WEALTH

Catherine A. Traywick wrote in Foreign Policy, “During their two-decade conjugal dictatorship, as it came to be known, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos pillaged up to $10 billion from Philippine coffers to finance their extravagant lifestyle. Nearly 20 years after their downfall, and in spite of an extensive recovery effort, most of that wealth is still missing. 

"The PCGG has a list of more than 100 missing paintings believed to have been purchased by the Marcoses with dirty money. This past year, one of those paintings -- Monet's "Le Bassin aux Nymphéas" -- turned up at an auction in New York where it sold for $43 million. 

“The PCGG has seized $350 million worth of real estate in New York, including a Wall Street skyscraper (which sold for almost nothing), the Crown Building, a nine-story Manhattan shopping mall, a Fifth Avenue tower, and a 13-acre estate on Long Island. 

The Marcoses also had several properties in Beverly Hills and two homes in Princeton Pike and Cherry Hill, New Jersey. 

“In 2003, a Philippine court ordered the forfeiture of $683 million held in Swiss bank accounts in Ferdinand Marcos's name. Switzerland turned over the money in 2004. 

 

WILLIAM AND JANE

To hide their ill-gotten wealth, the Marcoses used various dummies and layers and even utilized assumed names like "William Saunders" for the dictator and "Jane Ryan" for Imelda in their accounts. 

Marcos hid his wealth through layers and layers of corporations and trusts and in 1999, Imelda said her husband entrusted $12.8 billion worth of blue chip stocks to his cronies.

The PCGG as of 2004 had reportedly already recovered $2.24 billion worth of cash, bank accounts and prime real estate from the Marcoses and their cronies.

But one of the continuing stories is that when the family finally fled the palace during the 1986 popular uprising, they carried as much of their wealth as they could on their persons: 89 family members and servants carried $10,000 in cash each. 

Reportedly, their jet held 50 pounds of gold bullion and $5 million-$10 million worth of jewelry. A second plane carried 22 boxes filled with $1.2 million of newly minted currency. 

 

BURNING QUESTION

The burning question nowadays is what happened to all those wealth reportedly physically carried by the Marcoses and their people when they fled the country in 1986?

It appears that the Marcoses successfully managed to keep the stash for themselves which could be a part of a compromise agreement with the United States.

That stash is now widely believed being used by the Marcoses to buy their freedom and make their path clear back to Malacanang Palace.   

 

LESSONS

While Imelda and the rest of Marcoses’ dream of making Bongbong the second most powerful man in the land appeared to have hit the dead end- with the impending victory of Robredo, there are still some lessons to be learned from the experience.

The first and most valuable lesson is that the Marcoses are still around and that all freedom loving citizens of this country should not take them from granted.

The former victims were forced to stand up and informed the young generation of voters about the atrocities during the martial law years that prevented the younger Marcos from inching closer to the palace.

The message is clear, Imelda and her clan will have to contend and win over with the throngs of victims who were harmed and badly hurt by the Marcos dictatorship before they could ever aspire to win back the seat of power. 

The saying, ‘what Imelda wants, Imelda gets’ would not apply this time especially if the people would band together and remember the Marcoses’ past sins. 

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