President Marcos agreed with Wall St bankers that as President he would commit the Philippines to going into debt, unlike his predecessor, President Magsaysay, who turned Wall St’s bankers down, and then died in an air crash that has never been fully explained. Marcos duly borrowed billions of US dollars, using them to build schools and other infrastructure creating a mass of jobs in the process.
The Philippines poor liked the Marcos regime as his spending kept them in work, and improved government facilities.
When Marcos ran out of funds, he returned to the bankers and asked for another infusion of dollars on loan. The bankers came back to him saying they would lend at low rates of interest as before, but this time there would be terms. These terms were simply that Marcos had to sign away the natural resources of the Philippines to the Wall St Banks in perpetuity, and the Peso would have to be joined into the US Dollar area.
Whatever Marcos was, (rich Filipinos consider that their assets were being stolen wholesale by him and his cronies), he was not willing to sign into the deal, and sell the Philippines away to secure the new loans. The CIA were then brought in, as he had failed to sign away the Philippines as the bankers wished him to, and they orchestrated the ‘PeoplePower’ revolution. Wall St-compliant Marcos-replacements were duly brought in – the Aquinos.
Before Marcos fell, a team of entrepreneurial young British bankers came and offered Marcos a deal competing with the Americans, which was just a loan of money with no terms, just a higher rate of interest. Marcos was interested, and thought he could send the Wall St predators packing. However the British bankers were charged with fraud in the USA and are still in jail forty years later. Their story came out in a youtube interview over the phone from a US jail when James? May managed to speak to a journalist for an hour, and the conversation was recorded.
The video is no longer available, but was on this blog for at least two years. The post has long since vanished.
Now with Bong Bong Marcos standing for the Vice Presidency, and the prospective President Roddy Duterte being over 70 years old, , the usual anti-Marcos stories are resurfacing in the media. There could in time be another Marcos Presidency. Marcos is leading the vote for VP four hours after the polls closed, as is Duterte leading the Presidential vote.
Some of the facts given in the media tell the story, which needs unravelling. –
From The Guardian today –
Just as Marcos’s wealth was too great to seize, so his political influence was too big to beat. Two weeks after the revolution, a source in New York had shown the PCGG a report revealing that, even before he was deposed, his allies in US intelligence were aware that he had stolen up to $10bn.
But the CIA refused to disclose what they knew.
The Japanese government made it clear to Aquino that they were not going to hand over information, and aid packages could be in jeopardy if the PCGG pushed too hard. In the UK, Margaret Thatcher’s government said it was “not our business”.
The problem for these governments was that they had turned a blind eye while their companies had waded into the muck alongside Marcos – taking his money without asking where it came from. In some cases, Marcos, in turn, had paid bribes to senior politicians and made illegal contributions to election campaigns, including those of US presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. (When this surfaced in 1986, they said they had not known where the money came from.)
A PCGG veteran of nearly 30 years has a special frustration with the US. He says they have never handed over all the paperwork seized from Marcos when he arrived in Hawaii, and he flicks through the copies he has: “See? Some pages which are blank, some inventory pages which are blank. We think they have redacted transactions involving US organisations. They were partners in theft.” And he pauses to consider how the US would react if some other nation seized evidence of their most prolific criminal and handed it over in redacted form.
By the autumn of 1991, Imelda Marcos was feeling sufficiently safe to go back to the Philippines with her three adult children. In New York, the PCGG picked up rumours that some of the paintings were still there and being sold by a professional dealer. They hired a firm of private investigators, IGI, to watch the dealer, and established that he had some of the Marcos collection, including Goya’s portrait of the Marquesa de Santa Cruz.
Early in June 1992, the investigators discovered the dealer had been warned that they were on to him. The next morning, they watched as five men and women “of Filipino appearance” turned up outside the dealer’s apartment in two vans, loaded up boxes and large blue suitcases, and drove out to JFK airport, where all five checked in as first-class passengers along with their unusual cargo. With no legal power to intervene, the investigators could only watch as they flew off to Manila.
The pattern of impunity was set. In Seattle in December 1989, a jury found that the Marcoses were implicated in a plot to murder two Filipino union activists who had been shot there in 1981. The jury ordered them to pay $15.1m compensation to the victims’ families. The money has not been paid. In Hawaii in 1995, a court found the regime had abused the human rights of thousands who’d been tortured and killed, and ordered that Ferdinand’s estate pay nearly $2bn compensation. Less than 1% of that has been paid. Having returned to Manila, in September 1993 Imelda was convicted of personally defrauding the state in a land deal while Marcos was still in power. She was sentenced to 18 years in prison but bailed while she lodged an appeal. Five years later the supreme court threw out her conviction on technical grounds.
Soon, the PCGG was running into more problems, as Marcos allies found their way back into power and argued that the failure to retrieve more stolen money proved the commission was pointless and should be closed. Worse, the PCGG was tainted by the corruption it was trying to expose. Some officials were caught exploiting empty Marcos properties and pocketing “excessive” expenses. Twice the weakened PCGG made compromise agreements with the Marcos family that were so generous, the Philippine courts blocked them.
By the late 1990s, Imelda had been elected to the Philippine House of Representatives and was emboldened to give provocative interviews in which she declared “there is more money the government is not yet aware of” and “we own practically everything in the Philippines”. Increasingly secure, her confidence got the better of her. In 2007, she gave more interviews and posed for photographs that clearly showed eight of the missing paintings gleaming on her walls, including Goya’s portrait. Another old master hung on the wall of her office in the House of Representatives.
The PCGG went to court for an order to recover them. But with the Marcoses opposing every move, the case took six years. When they finally raided Imelda’s office and four of her homes in October 2014, they again found only pale patches on the walls where the eight paintings had once hung and “Imelda crying into her handkerchief”.
Even so, the PCGG has dragged some victories out of the swamp. In 2004, they finally retrieved the money from the five Swiss accounts. At an even slower pace, they seized the assets of half a dozen crony companies and recovered most of the coconut levy. They auctioned paintings, jewellery, silver and dozens of houses.
In total, the PCGG has succeeded in retrieving $3.7bn. amounts to less than half the top estimate for what was taken by Marcos alone. In spite of their efforts, they have watched his associates retire to a life of self-indulgence with most of their fortunes intact. They have dozens of cases still bogged down in the courts, including 22 that started in 1987 or earlier.
The head of the PCGG, Richard Amurao, is a conspicuously decent lawyer, aged 41, who spent five years as a commissioner before becoming chairman last year. He points out how a single piece of Imelda’s jewellery could have paid for 2,000 young Filipinos to go through college. He is not giving up, yet reflects that it has been exhausting, and hard to see how they can win. “It is like the traffic jams in Manila. You begin to accept that it just is this way.”
Deep in the vaults of the Central Bank, he says, there is a large collection of Imelda’s jewellery, due to be auctioned next month. It includes most of what was seized 30 years ago by US customs, another stash found in the palace, and a third intercepted at Manila airport as a friend of Imelda’s attempted to fly out of the country. Last year, Christie’s valued the collection; they identified treasures that had previously been missed, including a tiara with 25 pearls in a diamond frame seized from the Russian tsar’s family in the 1918 revolution. It is estimated to be worth more than $4m. Amurao’s workers have invented their own word to describe anybody who is extravagantly greedy: “Imeldific”.
What will happen if Bongbong Marcos is elected vice-president? Will he allow his mother access to the vaults to retrieve the jewellery she insists is hers? Will he kill the PCGG entirely? Bongbong, 58, started his political career before his family was exiled, becoming vice-governor of Ilocos Norte province in 1981, aged 23. Six years after exile, he returned to become a congressman. He recently denied any involvement in the legal moves that have blocked so much of the PCGG’s work. In February, Amurao issued a tough response, saying his claim was “belied by court records which show his involvement”. He listed cases in which Bongbong and his mother are still laying claim to what the PCGG says is ill-gotten wealth. Imelda is now 86, and actively campaigning for her son.
“The work is not finished,” Amurao says. “There is no statute of limitation on seeking justice. But the passing of time makes it more and more difficult to find new leads. Time is an ally for those who want us to forget. And if Bongbong wins, we don’t really see how we can do our work – not with the son of the former president only a heartbeat away from the presidency.”
The name Marcos is still politically trusted in the Philippines. The people hope their oppression by rich corporations and corrupt politicians will be ended by Duterte and Marcos winning the election held today, results to be known tomorrow. The corporations and the CIA don’t want the true story of the looting of the Philippines to come out.