When Ferdinand Marcos implemented the Martial Law or Proclamation 1081 on September 21, 1972 – a lot has changed in the Philippines. A lot changed for Marcos as well – in terms of power and wealth.
For the uninitiated, let’s start what Martial Law is. It is declared when an area is under extreme civil unrest or in chaos due to a major natural disaster. Marcos’ claim that time was that the Philippines was in a total unrest that it needed extreme measure to protect the country and its citizens.
The riots that were happening that time is debatable but nonetheless he pushed on declaring Martial Law in the Philippines.
Martial Law is a time were civil laws and rights are suspended and military rule is even extended to civilians. It immensely increased the power of Marcos. Because of his wide range of control over the country and its laws, not only did his power increase but also his acquisition.
Marcos maximized his knowledge in building his wealth. He started with monopolies and as not to directly involve himself – he put his allies in control.
The coconut industry was under Eduardo Cojuangco’s directive and while sugar is assigned to Roberto Benedicto. Marcos understood how monopolies work in these big industries.
He took over large companies, regardless if it’s public or government owned and assigned them through his cronies also. With that, he now had access to a lot of funds. He deposited the funds he collected in Swiss Banks for “safety” and reinvested some of it for his and his allies’ personal gain.
Case in point, Marcos and his cronies even used coconut levy funds to acquire San Miguel Corporation stocks in the 70s. In 2012, the shares including dividends and interests amounted to 71.6 billion Philippine pesos.
What was used to purchase these shares, were the taxes imposed on coconut farmers in the 70s. Marcos and his dummy companies also purchased shares from PLDT, Meralco, Oriental Petroleum and Minerals Corp., and Marcopper Mining Corp.
The late president also invested in real estate. They have acquired properties in Valle Verde, North Greenhills, and Capitol Hills. Not only that, a Marcos crony also surrendered the Mapalad Property in Parañaque in 1986. This residential and commercial lot was sold for 247.11 million Philippine pesos in 2013.
His first lady, Imelda Marcos was into acquiring as well – purchasing beautiful and lavish things. They bought rare and most sought after art pieces and one of them is a Claude Monet painting. Mrs. Marcos’ personal secretary in New York, Vilma Bautista was found guilty of attempting to sell this painting by the New York State Supreme Court.
Imelda’s purchases just didn’t stop there. She collected jewelry which included luxurious brands such as Bulgari and Cartier, and the approximate total value of these jewelries in question is about 8 million US dollars.
Marcos’ recorded annual income never surpassed the 13,500 US dollars mark and yet they were able to purchase and invest more than that figure. Through Martial Law and abuse of power, Marcos was able to grow his personal funds.
As of 2016, the PCGG (Presidential Commission on Good Government) has recovered about 170 billion pesos of the Marcos’ stolen wealth. The work is far from over as the Marcoses were said to have collected a total of 10 billion US dollars through the years.
Ferdinand may have passed on but Imelda and the children are very much still alive. They should be answerable to this stolen wealth as they also benefitted from it before and up to this very moment.
Ana Roa, “Regime of Marcoses, cronies, kleptocracy,” http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/641277/regime-of-marcoses-cronies-kleptocracy, (September 29, 2014).
Nick Davies, “The $10bn question: what happened to the Marcos millions?,” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/07/10bn-dollar-question-marcos-millions-nick-davies, (May 7, 2016).