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Ferdinand Marcos

Ferdinand Marcos

Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos Sr. (September 11, 1917 – September 28, 1989) was a Filipino politician and kleptocrat[4][5][6][7][8][9][10] who was the tenth President of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986.[11] A leading member of the far-right New Society Movement, he ruled as a dictator[5][12][13][14] under martial law from 1972 until 1981.[15] His regime was infamous for its corruption,[16][17][18][19] extravagance,[20][21][22] and brutality.[23][24][25]

Marcos claimed an active part in World War II, including fighting alongside the Americans in the Bataan Death March and being the "most decorated war hero in the Philippines".[26] A number of his claims were found to be false[27][28][29][30][31] and the United States Army documents described Marcos's wartime claims as "fraudulent" and "absurd".[32]

Marcos started as an attorney, then served in the Philippine House of Representatives from 1949 to 1959 and the Philippine Senate from 1959 to 1965. He was elected President in 1965, and presided over a growing economy during the beginning and intermediate portion of his 20-year rule,[33] but ended in loss of livelihood, extreme poverty, and a crushing debt crisis.[34][35][36] Marcos placed the Philippines under martial law on September 23, 1972,[37][38][39] during which he revamped the constitution, silenced the media,[40] and used violence and oppression[25] against the political opposition,[41] Muslims, communists,[42] and ordinary citizens.[43] Martial law was ratified by 90.77% of the voters during the Philippine Martial Law referendum, 1973 though the referendum was marred with controversy.[44][45]

Public outrage over the assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr. and economic collapse in 1983, coupled with the opposition securing a better than expected victory in the 1984 Philippine parliamentary election led to the snap elections of 1986. Allegations of mass cheating, political turmoil, and human rights abuses led to the People Power Revolution in February 1986, which removed him from power.[46] To avoid what could have been a military confrontation in Manila between pro- and anti-Marcos troops, Marcos was advised by US President Ronald Reagan through Senator Paul Laxalt to "cut and cut cleanly",[47] after which Marcos fled to Hawaii.[48] Marcos was succeeded by Corazon "Cory" Aquino, widow of the assassinated opposition leader Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. who had flown back to the Philippines to face Marcos.[46][49][50][51]

According to source documents provided by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG),[52][53][54] the Marcos family stole US$5–10 billion.[55] The PCGG also maintained that the Marcos family enjoyed a decadent lifestyle, taking away billions of dollars[52][54] from the Philippines[56][57] between 1965 and 1986. His wife Imelda Marcos, whose excesses during the couple's conjugal dictatorship[58][59][60] made her infamous in her own right, spawned the term "Imeldific".[23][61][62][63] Two of their children, Imee Marcos and Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., are still active in Philippine politics.

Economy of the Philippines underPresident Ferdinand Marcos1966–1971Economy of the Philippines underPresident Ferdinand Marcos1972–1985
His Excellency

Ferdinand Marcos
10th President of the Philippines
In office
December 30, 1965 – February 25, 1986
Prime MinisterHimself (1978–1981)
Cesar Virata (1981–1986)
Vice PresidentFernando López (1965–1973)
Preceded byDiosdado Macapagal
Succeeded byCorazon Aquino
3rd Prime Minister of the Philippines
In office
June 12, 1978 – June 30, 1981
Preceded byOffice established
(Position previously held by Jorge B. Vargas as Ministries involved)
Succeeded byCesar Virata
Secretary of National Defense
In office
August 28, 1971 – January 3, 1972
Preceded byJuan Ponce Enrile
Succeeded byJuan Ponce Enrile
In office
December 31, 1965 – January 20, 1967
Preceded byMacario Peralta
Succeeded byErnesto Mata
11th President of the Senate of the Philippines
In office
April 5, 1963 – December 30, 1965
PresidentDiosdado Macapagal
Preceded byEulogio Rodriguez
Succeeded byArturo Tolentino
Senator of the Philippines
In office
December 30, 1959 – December 30, 1965
Member of the Philippine House of Representatives from Ilocos Norte's 2nd District
In office
December 30, 1949 – December 30, 1959
Preceded byPedro Albano
Succeeded bySimeon M. Valdez
Personal details
Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos

(1917-09-11)September 11, 1917
Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, Philippine Islands
DiedSeptember 28, 1989(1989-09-28)(aged 72)
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
Resting placeFerdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center, Batac, Ilocos Norte
Heroes' Cemetery, Taguig, Metro Manila
(since November 18, 2016)
Political partyKilusang Bagong Lipunan (1978-1989)
Other political
Liberal Party (1946–1965)
Nacionalista Party (1965–1978)
Imelda Romuáldez (m.1954)
Children4 (Imee, Bongbong, Irene, and an adopted child, Aimee)
Alma materUniversity of the Philippines
Military service
AllegiancePhilippines / United States[1]
RankFirst lieutenant
Unit11th Infantry Division
14th Infantry Regiment
Battles/warsWorld War II
Presidential styles of
**Ferdinand E. Marcos**
Sagisag ng Pangulo ng Pilipinas FM.png
Reference styleHis Excellency
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Alternative styleMr. President
196733.71 million
Gross Domestic Product (1985 constant prices)
1966Increase₱285,886 million
1971Increase₱361,791 million
Growth rate, 1966–71 average4.75%
Per capita income (1985 constant prices)
Total exports
1966Increase₱70,254 million
1971Decrease₱63,626 million
Exchange rates
USD1 = ₱6.44
₱1 = USD0.16
198554.3 million
Gross Domestic Product (1985 constant prices)
1972Increase₱ 381,497 million
1985Increase₱571,883 million
Growth rate, 1972–85 average3.43%
Per capita income (1985 constant prices)
Exchange rates
USD1 = ₱20
₱1 = USD0.05

Early life

Ferdinand Edralin Marcos was born on September 11, 1917, in the town of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, to Mariano Marcos and Josefa Edralin (1893–1988).[64] He was later baptized into the Philippine Independent Church,[65] but was first baptized in the Roman Catholic Church at the age of three.


Marcos studied law at the University of the Philippines in Manila, attending the prestigious College of Law. He excelled in both curricular and extra-curricular activities, becoming a valuable member of the university's swimming, boxing, and wrestling teams. He was also an accomplished and prolific orator, debater, and writer for the student newspaper. While attending the UP College of Law, he became a member of the Upsilon Sigma Phi, where he met his future colleagues in government and some of his staunchest critics.[66][67] When he sat for the 1939 Bar Examinations, he received a near-perfect score of 98.8%, but allegations of cheating prompted the Philippine Supreme Court to re-calibrate his score to 92.35%.[68] He graduated cum laude. He was elected to the Pi Gamma Mu and the Phi Kappa Phi international honor societies, the latter giving him its Most Distinguished Member Award 37 years later.[69]

Eidetic memory

In Seagrave's book The Marcos Dynasty, he mentioned that Marcos possessed a phenomenal memory and exhibited this by memorizing complicated texts and reciting them forward and backward, even such as the 1935 Constitution of the Philippines. Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, in an interview with the Philippine Star on March 25, 2012, shared her experience as a speech writer to President Marcos: "One time, the Secretary of Justice forgot to tell me that the President had requested him to draft a speech that the President was going to deliver before graduates of the law school. And then, on the day the President was to deliver the speech, he suddenly remembered because Malacañang was asking for the speech, so he said, 'This is an emergency. You just have to produce something.' And I just dictated the speech. He liked long speeches. I think that was 20 or 25 pages. And then, in the evening, I was there, of course. President Marcos recited the speech from memory."[70]

The Murder of Julio Nalundasan

In December 1938, Ferdinand Marcos was prosecuted for the murder of Julio Nalundasan. He was not the only accused from the Marcos clan; also accused was his father, Mariano, his brother, Pio, and his brother-in-law Quirino Lizardo. Nalundasan, one of the elder Marcos' political rivals, had been shot and killed in his house in Batac on September 21, 1935 – the day after he had defeated Mariano Marcos a second time for a seat in the National Assembly.[71] According to two witnesses, the four had conspired to assassinate Nalundasan, with Ferdinand Marcos eventually pulling the trigger. In late January 1939, they were finally denied bail[72] and later in the year, they were convicted. Ferdinand and Lizardo received the death penalty for premeditated murder, while Mariano and Pio were found guilty of contempt of court. The Marcos family took their appeal to the Supreme Court of the Philippines, which overturned the lower court's decision on 22 October 1940, acquitting them of all charges except contempt.[73]

Military service during World War II

Marcos' military service during World War II has been the subject of debate and controversy, both in the Philippines and in international military circles.[74]

Marcos, who had received ROTC training, was activated for service in the US Armed Forces in the Philippines (USAFIP) after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He served as a 3rd lieutenant during the mobilization in the summer and fall of 1941, continuing until April 1942, after which he was taken prisoner.[75] According to Marcos' account, he was released from prison by the Japanese on August 4, 1942,[75] and US Military records show that he rejoined USAFIP forces in December 1944.[75] Marcos' Military service then formally ended with his discharge as a Major in the 14th Infantry, US Armed Forces in the Philippines Northern Luzon, in May 1945.[76]

Controversies regarding Marcos' military service revolve around: the reason for his release from the Japanese POW camp;[75] his actions between release from prison in August 1942 and return to the USAFIP in December 1944;[75] his supposed rank upon discharge from USAFIP;[76] and his claims to being the recipient of numerous military decorations, most of which were proven to be fraudulent.[74]

Documents uncovered by the Washington Post in 1986 suggested that Marcos' release in August 1942 happened because his father, former congressman and provincial governor Mariano Marcos, "cooperated with the Japanese military authorities" as publicist.[75]

After his release, Marcos claims that he spent much of the period between his August 1942 release and his December 1944 return to USAFIP[75] as the leader of a guerilla organization called Ang Mga Mahárlika (Tagalog, "The Freemen") in Northern Luzon.[77] According to Marcos' claim, this force had a strength of 9,000 men.[77] His account of events was later cast into doubt after a United States military investigation exposed many of his claims as either false or inaccurate.[78]

Another controversy arose in 1947, when Marcos began signing communications with the rank of Lt. Col., instead of Major.[76] This prompted US officials to note that Marcos was only "recognized as a major in the roster of the 14th Infantry USAFIP, NL as of 12 December 1944 to his date of discharge."[76]

The biggest controversy arising from Marcos' service during World War II, however, would concern his claims during the 1962 Senatorial Campaign of being "most decorated war hero of the Philippines"[74] He claimed to have been the recipient of 33 war medals and decorations, including the Distinguished Service Cross and the Medal of Honor, but researchers later found that stories about the wartime exploits of Marcos were mostly propaganda, being inaccurate or untrue.[79] Only two of the supposed 33 awards – the Gold Cross and the Distinguished Service Star – were given during the war, and both had been contested by Marcos' superiors.[79]

House of Representatives (1949-1959)

After the surrender of the Japanese and the end of World War II, the American government became preoccupied with setting up the Marshall Plan to revive the economies of the western hemisphere, and quickly backtracked from its interests in the Philippines, granting the islands independence on July 4, 1946.[80][81] Marcos ran for his father's old post as house representative of the 2nd district of Ilocos Norte and won three consecutive terms, serving in the house from 1949 to 1959.[82]

Marcos joined the "Liberal Wing" that split from the Nacionalista Party, which eventually became the Liberal Party. He eventually became the Liberal Party's spokesman on economic matters, and was made chairman of the House Neophytes Bloc which included future President Diosdado Macapagal, future Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez and future Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson.[82]

Marcos became chairman of the House Committee on Commerce and Industry and a member of the House Committees on Defense, Ways and Means; Industry; Banks Currency; War Veterans; Civil Service; and on Corporations and Economic Planning. He was also a member of the Special Committee on Import and Price Controls and the Special Committee on Reparations, and of the House Electoral Tribunal.[82]

Philippine Senate (1959-1965)

After he served as member of the House of Representatives for three terms, Marcos won his senate seat in the elections in 1959 and became the Senate minority floor leader in 1960. He became the executive vice president of the Liberal Party in and served as the party president from 1961 to 1964.

Senate Presidency

From 1963 to 1965, he became the Senate President. Thus far, he is the last Senate President to become President of the Philippines. He introduced a number of significant bills, many of which found their way into the Republic statute books.[82]


Ferdinand Marcos was inaugurated to his first term as the tenth President of the Philippines on 30 December 1965, after winning the Philippine presidential election of 1965 against the incumbent President, Diosdado Macapagal. His inauguration marked the beginning of his two-decade long stay in power, even though the 1935 Philippine Constitution had set a limit of only two four-year terms of office.

Before Marcos' presidency, the Philippines was the second largest economy in Asia, behind only Japan.[83] He pursued an aggressive program of infrastructure development funded by foreign loans,[83] making him very popular throughout almost all of his first term and eventually making him the first and only President of the Third Philippine Republic to win a second term, although it would also trigger an inflationary crisis which would lead to social unrest in his second term, and would eventually lead to his declaration of martial law in 1972.[84][85]

On the evening of September 23, 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos announced that he had placed the entirety of the Philippines under martial law.[86] This marked the beginning of a 14-year period of one man rule which would effectively last until Marcos was exiled from the country on February 25, 1986. Even though the formal document proclaiming martial law - Proclamation No. 1081 - was formally lifted on January 17, 1981, Marcos retained virtually all of his powers as dictator until he was ousted by the EDSA Revolution.[86]

First term (1966–1969)

Presidential campaign

Ferdinand Marcos is sworn into his first term on December 30, 1965.

Ferdinand Marcos is sworn into his first term on December 30, 1965.

Marcos ran a populist campaign emphasizing that he was a bemedalled war hero emerging from World War II. In 1962, Marcos would claim to be the most decorated war hero of the Philippines by garnering almost every medal and decoration that the Filipino and American governments could give to a soldier.[87] Included in his claim of 27 war medals and decorations are that of the Distinguished Service Cross and the Medal of Honor.[87][88] According to Primitivo Mijares, author of the book The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos,[89] the opposition Liberal Party would later confirm that many of his war medals were only acquired in 1962 to aid in his reelection campaign for the Senate, not for his presidential campaign.[90] Marcos won the presidency in 1965.[91]

Expansion of the Philippine Military

The leaders of some of the SEATO nations in front of the Congress Building in Manila, hosted by Marcos on 24 October 1966

The leaders of some of the SEATO nations in front of the Congress Building in Manila, hosted by Marcos on 24 October 1966

One of Marcos' earliest initiatives upon becoming president was to significantly expand the Philippine Military. In an unprecedented move, Marcos chose to concurrently serve as his own Defense Secretary, allowing him to have a direct hand in running the Military.[11] He also significantly increased the budget of the armed forces, tapping them in civil projects such as the construction of schools. Generals loyal to Marcos were allowed to stay in their positions past their retirement age, or were rewarded with civilian government posts, leading Senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr. to accuse Marcos in 1968 of trying to establish "a garrison state."[92]

Vietnam War

Marcos with Japanese Emperor Hirohito in 1966

Marcos with Japanese Emperor Hirohito in 1966

Under intense pressure from the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson,[93] Marcos reversed his pre-presidency position of not sending Philippine forces to Vietnam War,[94] and consented to a limited involvement,[95] asking Congress to approve sending a combat engineer unit. Despite opposition to the new plan, the Marcos government gained Congressional approval and Philippine troops were sent from the middle of 1966 as the Philippines Civic Action Group (PHILCAG). PHILCAG reached a strength of some 1,600 troops in 1968 and between 1966 and 1970 over 10,000 Filipino soldiers served in South Vietnam, mainly being involved in civilian infrastructure projects.[96]

Loans for Infrastructure Development

With an eye towards becoming the first president of the third republic to be reelected to a second term, Marcos began taking up massive foreign loans to fund the "rice, roads, and schoolbuildings" he promised in his reelection campaign. With tax revenues unable to fund his administration's 70% increase in infrastructure spending from 1966-1970, Marcos began tapping foreign loans. creating a budget deficit 72% higher than the Philippine government's annual deficit from 1961-1965.[11]

This began a pattern of loan-funded spending which the Marcos administration would continue until the Marcoses were deposed in 1986, resulting in economic instability still being felt today, and of debts that experts say the Philippines will have to keep paying well into 2025.[11] The grandest infrastructure projects of Marcos' first term, especially the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex, also marked the beginning of what critics would call Marcos couple's Edifice complex, with grand public infrastructures projects prioritized for public funding because of their propaganda value.[97]

1969 Presidential Campaign

Ferdinand Marcos' campaign for a second term formally began with his nomination as the presidential candidate of the Nacionalista Party at its July 1969 general meeting. A meeting of the party's ruling junta had met a week earlier to assure that the nomination would be unanimous.[98] Under the 1935 Constitution of the Philippines which was in force at the time, Marcos was supposed to be allowed a maximum of two four year terms as President.[11]

During the 1969 campaign, Marcos launched USD50 million worth in infrastructure projects in an effort to curry favor with the electorate.[99] This rapid campaign spending was so massive that it would be responsible for the Balance of Payments Crisis of 1970, whose inflationary effect would cause social unrest leading all the way up to the proclamation of Martial Law in 1972.[84][85] Marcos was reported to have spent PhP 100 for every PhP 1 that Osmena spent, using up PhP 24 Million in Cebu alone.[100]

With his popularity already beefed up by debt-funded spending, Marcos' popularity made it very likely that he would win the election, but he decided, as National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin reported in the Philippines Free Press, to "leave nothing to chance."[98] Time and Newsweek would eventually call the 1969 election the "dirtiest, most violent and most corrupt" in Philippine modern history, with the term "Three Gs", meaning "guns, goons, and gold"[101][102] coined[103] to describe administration's election tactics of vote-buying, terrorism and ballot snatching.[100]

Second term (1969–1972)

Ferdinand Marcos takes the Oath of Office for a second term before Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion on December 30, 1969

Ferdinand Marcos takes the Oath of Office for a second term before Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion on December 30, 1969

Presidential elections were held on November 11, 1969 and Marcos was reelected for a second term. He was the first and last Filipino president to win a second full term.[104][105][106][107] His running mate, incumbent Vice President Fernando Lopez was also elected to a third full term as Vice President of the Philippines.

Inflation and social unrest

Marcos won the November 1969 election by a landslide, and was inaugurated on December 30 of that year. But Marcos' massive spending during the 1969 presidential campaign had taken its toll and triggered growing public unrest.[108] During the campaign, Marcos had spent $50 Million Dollars worth in debt-funded infrastructure, triggering a Balance of Payments crisis.[109] The Marcos administration ran to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for help, and the IMF offered a debt restructuring deal. New policies, including a greater emphasis on exports and the relaxation of controls of the peso, were put in place. The Peso was allowed to float to a lower market value, resulting in drastic inflation, and social unrest.[108]

Marcos' spending during the campaign led to opposition figures such as Senator Lorenzo Tañada, Senator Jovito Salonga, and Senator Jose Diokno to accuse Marcos of wanting to stay in power even beyond the two term maximum set for the presidency by the 1935 constitution.[108]

"Moderate" and "radical" opposition

The media reports of the time classified the various civil society groups opposing Marcos into two categories.[110][111] The "Moderates", which included church groups, civil libertarians, and nationalist politicians, were those who wanted to create change through political reforms.[110] The "radicals", including a number of labor and student groups, wanted broader, more systemic political reforms.[110][112]

The "moderate" opposition

With the Constitutional Convention occupying their attention from 1971 to 1973, statesmen and politicians opposed to the increasingly more-authoritarian administration of Ferdinand Marcos mostly focused their efforts on political efforts from within the halls of power.[11] This notably included the National Union of Students in the Philippines,[112] and later the Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties or MCCCL, led by Senator Jose W. Diokno.[111] The MCCCL's rallies are particularly remembered for their diversity, attracting participants from both the moderate and radical camps; and for their scale, with the biggest one attended by as many as 50,000 people.[111]

The "radical" opposition

Around 1970, student activism was raging and many student activists joined the ranks of the communists. Kabataang Makabayan (Patriotic Youth, or 'KM') a political organization founded by Jose Maria Sison intended to be a nationwide extension of the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines,[113][114] carried out study sessions on Marxism–Leninism and intensified the deployment of urban activists in rural areas to prepare for People's war.[115][116] The line between leftist activists and communists became increasingly blurred, as a significant number of KM advanced activists joined the party of the Communist Party also founded by Jose Maria Sison.[115]

During the campaign period for the 1969 elections, students called promoted a mock campaign called the Dante-for-President movement, likely referring to New People's Army founder Bernabe 'Kumander Dante' Buscayno.[117]

In Marcos's diary,[118][119] he wrote that the whole crisis has been utilized by communism to create a revolutionary situation. He lamented that the powerful Lopez family blamed him in their newspapers for the riots thus raising the ire of demonstrators. He mentioned that he was informed by his mother of a planned assassination paid for by the powerful oligarch, Eugenio Lopez Sr. (Iñing Lopez). He narrated how he dissuaded his supporters from the Northern Philippines in infiltrating the demonstration in Manila and inflicting harm on the protesters, and how he showed to the UP professors that the Collegian was carrying the communist party articles and that he was disappointed in the faculty of his alma mater for becoming a spawning ground of communism. He also added that he asked Ernesto Rufino, Vicente Rufino, and Carlos Palanca to withdraw advertisements from The Manila Times which was openly supporting revolution and the communist cause, and they agreed to do so.

First Quarter Storm

By the time Marcos gave the first State of the Nation Address of his second term on January 26, 1970, the unrest born from the 1969-1970 Balance of Payments Crisis exploded into a series of demonstrations, protests, and marches against the government. Student groups - some moderate and some radical - served as the driving force of the protests, which lasted until the end of the university semester in March 1970, and would come to be known as the "First Quarter Storm".[120][108]

During Marcos' January 26, 1970 State of the Nation Address, the moderate National Union of Students of the Philippines organized a protested in front of Congress, and invited student groups both moderate and radical to join them. Some of the students participating in the protest harangued Marcos as he and his wife Imelda as they left the Congress building, throwing a coffin, a stuffed alligator, and stones at them.[121]

The next major protest took place on January 30, in front of the presidential palace,[122] where activists rammed the gate with a fire truck and once the gate broke and gave way, the activists charged into the Palace grounds tossing rocks, pillboxes, Molotov cocktails. At least two activists were confirmed dead and several were injured by the police.

The mayor of Manila at the time, Antonio Villegas, commended the Manila Police District for their "exemplary behavior and courage" and protecting the First Couple long after they have left. The death of the activists was seized on by The Manila Times and the Manila Chronicle, both of which were controlled by Fernando Lopez's family. These newspapers blamed Marcos for the deaths and added fire to the weekly protests.[119]

On February 18, protesters vandalized and set fire to the U.S. embassy lobby, resulting in a strong protest from the U.S. Ambassador.[115][117][118]

The KM protests ranged from 50,000 to 100,000 in number per weekly mass action.[115] Students had declared a week-long boycott of classes and instead met to organize protest rallies.[117]

Constitutional Convention of 1971

Expressing opposition to the Marcos' policies and citing rising discontent over wide inequalities in society,[11] critics of Marcos began campaigning in 1967 to initiate a constitutional convention which would revise change the 1935 Constitution of the Philippines.[123] On March 16 of that year, the Philippine Congress constituted itself into a Constituent Assembly and passed Resolution No. 2, which called for a Constitutional Convention to change the 1935 Constitution.[124]

Marcos surprised his critics by endorsing the move, but historians later noted that the resulting Constitutional Convention would lay the foundation for the legal justifications Marcos would use to extend his term past the two four-year terms allowable under the 1935 Constitution.[11]

A special election was held on November 10, 1970 to elect the delegates of the convention.[11] [] Once the winners had been determined, the convention was convened on June 1, 1971 at the newly completed Quezon City Hall.[125] A total of 320 delegates were elected to the convention, the most prominent being former Senators Raul Manglapus and Roseller T. Lim. Other delegates would become influential political figures, including Hilario Davide, Jr., Marcelo Fernan, Sotero Laurel, Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., Teofisto Guingona, Jr., Raul Roco, Edgardo Angara, Richard Gordon, Margarito Teves, and Federico Dela Plana.[11][126]

By 1972 the convention had already been bogged down by politicking and delays, when its credibility took a severe blow in May 1972 when a delegate exposed a bribery scheme in which delegates were paid to vote in favor of the Marcoses – with First Lady Imelda Marcos herself implicated in the alleged payola scheme.[11] [] [127]

The investigation on the scheme was effectively shelved when Marcos declared martial law in September 1972, and had 11 opposition delegates arrested. The remaining opposition delegates were forced to go either into exile or hiding. Within two months, an entirely new draft of the constitution was created from scratch by a special committee.[128] The 1973 constitutional plebiscite was called to ratify the new constitution, but the validity of the ratification was brought to question because Marcos replaced the method of voting through secret ballot with a system of viva voce voting by "citizen's assemblies".[129] [] The ratification of the constitution was challenged in what came to be known as the Ratification Cases.[130][131]

Early growth of the CPP New People's Army

On December 29, 1970, Philippine Military Academy instructor Lt Victor Corpuz led New People's Army rebels in a raid on the PMA armory, capturing rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers, a bazooka and thousands of rounds of ammunition in 1970.[132] In 1972, China, which was then actively supporting and arming communist insurgencies in Asia as part of Mao Zedong's People's War Doctrine, transported 1,200 M-14 and AK-47 rifles[133] for the NPA to speed up NPA's campaign to defeat the government.[134][135]

Rumored coup d'état and assassination plot

Rumors of coup d'état were also brewing. A report of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that shortly after the 1969 Philippine presidential election, a group composed mostly of retired colonels and generals organized a revolutionary junta with the aim of first discrediting President Marcos and then killing him. The group was headed by Eleuterio Adevoso, an official of the opposition Liberal Party. As described in a document given to the committee by a Philippine Government official, key figures in the plot were Vice President Fernando Lopez and Sergio Osmena Jr., whom Marcos defeated in the 1969 election.[136] Marcos even went to the U.S. embassy to dispel rumors, spread by the Liberal Party, that the U.S. supported a coup d'état.[119]

While a report obtained by The New York Times speculated that rumors of a coup could be used by Marcos to justify martial law, as early as December 1969 in a message from the U.S. Ambassador to the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, the ambassador said that most of the talk about revolution and even assassination has been coming from the defeated opposition, of which Adevoso is a leading activist. He also said that the information he has on the assassination plans are 'hard' or well-sourced and he has to make sure that it reaches President Marcos.[137][138]

In light of the crisis, Marcos wrote an entry in his diary in January 1970:[119] "I have several options. One of them is to abort the subversive plan now by the sudden arrest of the plotters. But this would not be accepted by the people. Nor could we get the Huks (Communists), their legal cadres and support. Nor the MIM (Maoist International Movement) and other subversive [or front] organizations, nor those underground. We could allow the situation to develop naturally then after massive terrorism, wanton killings and an attempt at my assassination and a coup d'etat, then declare martial law or suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus – and arrest all including the legal cadres. Right now I am inclined towards the latter."

Plaza Miranda bombing

Ferdinand Marcos with U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, 1982.

Ferdinand Marcos with U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, 1982.

According to interviews by The Washington Post with unnamed former Communist Party of the Philippines Officials "the (Communist) party leadership planned – and three operatives carried out – the (Plaza Miranda) attack in an attempt to provoke government repression and push the country to the brink of revolution... (Communist Party Leader) Sison had calculated that Marcos could be provoked into cracking down on his opponents, thereby driving thousands of political activists into the underground, the anonymous former officials said. Recruits were urgently needed, they said, to make use of a large influx of weapons and financial aid that China had already agreed to provide."[139] José María Sison continues to deny these claims,[140] and the CPP has never released any official confirmation of their culpability in the incident. Marcos and his allies claimed that Benigno Aquino Jr. was part of the plot, which is generally regarded as absurd given that Aquino was pro-American and pro-capitalist.[141][142]

Most historians continue to hold Marcos responsible for the Plaza Miranda bombing as he is known to have used false flag operations as a pretext for martial law.[143][144] There were a series of deadly bombings in 1971, and the CIA privately stated that Marcos was responsible for at least one of them. The agency was also almost certain that none of the bombings were perpetrated by Communists. US intelligence documents declassified in the 1990s contained further evidence implicating Marcos, provided by a CIA mole within the Philippine army.[145]

Another false flag attack took place with the attempted assassination of Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile in 1972. President Nixon approved Marcos' martial law initiative immediately afterwards.[145]

1971 Suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus

As a response to the Plaza Miranda bombing, Marcos issued Proclamation No. 889, through which he assumed emergency powers and suspended the writ of habeas corpus - an act which would later be seen as a prelude to the declaration of Martial Law more than a year later.[142]

Marcos' suspension of the writ became the event that forced many members of the moderate opposition, including figures like Edgar Jopson, to join the ranks of the radicals. In the aftermath of the bombing, Marcos lumped all of the opposition together and referred to them as communists, and many former moderates fled to the mountain encampments of the radical opposition to avoid being arrested by Marcos' forces. Those who became disenchanted with the excesses of the Marcos administration and wanted to join the opposition after 1971 often joined the ranks of the radicals, simply because they represented the only group vocally offering opposition to the Marcos government.[146][147]

1972 Manila bombings

Plaza Miranda was soon followed by a series of about twenty explosions which took place in various locations in Metro Manila in the months immediately proceeding Ferdinand Marcos' proclamation of Martial Law.[148] The first of these bombings took place on March 15, 1972, and the last took place on September 11, 1972 - twelve days before martial law was announced on September 23 of that year.

The Marcos regime officially attributed the explosions communist "urban guerillas",[148] and Marcos included them in the list of "inciting events" which served as rationalizations for his declaration of Martial Law.[149] Marcos' political opposition at the time questioned the attribution of the explosions to the communists, noting that the only suspects caught in connection to the explosions were linked to the Philippine Constabulary.[149]

The sites of the 1972 Manila bombings included the Palace Theater and Joe's Department Store on Carriedo Street, both in Manila; the offices of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), Filipinas Orient Airways, and Philippine American Life and General Insurance Company (PhilamLife); the Cubao branch of the Philippine Trust Company (now known as PhilTrust Bank); the Senate Publication Division and the Philippine Sugar Institute in Quezon City, and the South Vietnamese embassy.[148]

However, only one of these incidents - the one in the Carriedo shopping mall - went beyond damage to property; one woman was killed and about 40 persons were injured.[149]

Martial Law (1972–1981)

Proclamation 1081

Marcos' declaration of martial law became known to the public on September 23, 1972 when his Press Secretary, Francisco Tatad, announced on Radio[37][38][39] that Proclamation № 1081, which Marcos had supposedly signed two days earlier on September 21, had come into force and would extend Marcos's rule beyond the constitutional two-term limit.[150] Ruling by decree, he almost dissolved press freedom and other civil liberties to add propaganda machine, closed down Congress and media establishments, and ordered the arrest of opposition leaders and militant activists, including senators Benigno Aquino Jr., Jovito Salonga and Jose Diokno.[151][152] However, unlike Ninoy Aquino's senator colleagues who were detained without charges, Ninoy, together with communist NPA leaders Lt Corpuz and Bernabe Buscayno, was charged with murder, illegal possession of firearms and subversion.[153] Marcos claimed that martial law was the prelude to creating his Bagong Lipunan, a "New Society" based on new social and political values.

Bagong Lipunan (New Society)

Japanese imperial army soldier Hiroo Onoda offering his military sword to Marcos on the day of his surrender on March 11, 1974

Japanese imperial army soldier Hiroo Onoda offering his military sword to Marcos on the day of his surrender on March 11, 1974

Marcos had a vision of a Bagong Lipunan (New Society) similar to Indonesian president Suharto's "New Order administration", China leader Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward and Korean Kim Il-Sung's Juche. He used the years of martial law to implement this vision. According to Marcos's book Notes on the New Society, it was a movement urging the poor and the privileged to work as one for the common goals of society and to achieve the liberation of the Filipino people through self-realization.

University of the Philippines Diliman economics professor and former NEDA Director-General Dr. Gerardo Sicat,[154] an MIT Ph.D. graduate, portrayed some of Martial Law's effects as follows:[155]

Economic reforms suddenly became possible under martial law. The powerful opponents of reform were silenced and the organized opposition was also quilted. In the past, it took enormous wrangling and preliminary stage-managing of political forces before a piece of economic reform legislation could even pass through Congress. Now it was possible to have the needed changes undertaken through presidential decree. Marcos wanted to deliver major changes in an economic policy that the government had tried to propose earlier. The enormous shift in the mood of the nation showed from within the government after martial law was imposed. The testimonies of officials of private chambers of commerce and of private businessmen dictated enormous support for what was happening. At least, the objectives of the development were now being achieved...[156]

The Marcos regime instituted a mandatory youth organization, known as the Kabataang Barangay, which was led by Marcos's eldest daughter Imee. Presidential Decree 684, enacted in April 1975, required that all youths aged 15 to 18 be sent to remote rural camps and do volunteer work.[157][158]

1973 Martial Law Referendum

Martial Law was put on vote in July 1973 in the 1973 Philippine Martial Law referendum and was marred with controversy[44][45] resulting to 90.77% voting yes and 9.23% voting no.

Rolex 12 and the military

Along with Marcos, members of his Rolex 12 circle like Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, Chief of Staff of the Philippine Constabulary Fidel Ramos, and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Fabian Ver were the chief administrators of martial law from 1972 to 1981, and the three remained President Marcos's closest advisers until he was ousted in 1986. Other peripheral members of the Rolex 12 included Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr. and Lucio Tan.

Between 1972 and 1976, Marcos increased the size of the Philippine military from 65,000 to 270,000 personnel, in response to the fall of South Vietnam to the communists and the growing tide of communism in South East Asia. Military officers were placed on the boards of a variety of media corporations, public utilities, development projects, and other private corporations, most of whom were highly educated and well-trained graduates of the Philippine Military Academy. At the same time, Marcos made efforts to foster the growth of a domestic weapons manufacturing industry and heavily increased military spending.[159]

Many human rights abuses were attributed to the Philippine Constabulary which was then headed by future president Fidel Ramos. The Civilian Home Defense Force, a precursor of Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), was organized by President Marcos to battle with the communist and Islamic insurgency problem, has particularly been accused of notoriously inflicting human right violations on leftists, the NPA, Muslim insurgents, and rebels against the Marcos government.[42] However, under martial law the Marcos administration was able to reduce violent urban crime, collect unregistered firearms, and suppress communist insurgency in some areas.[160]

U.S. foreign policy and martial law under Marcos

By 1977, the armed forces had quadrupled and over 60,000 Filipinos had been arrested for political reasons. In 1981, Vice President George H. W. Bush praised Marcos for his "adherence to democratic principles and to the democratic processes".[2] No American military or politician in the 1970s ever publicly questioned the authority of Marcos to help fight communism in South East Asia.

From the declaration of martial law in 1972 until 1983, the U.S. government provided $2.5 billion in bilateral military and economic aid to the Marcos regime, and about $5.5 billion through multilateral institutions such as the World Bank.[165]

In a 1979 U.S. Senate report, it was stated that U.S. officials were aware, as early as 1973, that Philippine government agents were in the United States to harass Filipino dissidents. In June 1981, two anti-Marcos labor activists were assassinated outside of a union hall in Seattle. On at least one occasion, CIA agents blocked FBI investigations of Philippine agents.[166]

Withdrawal of Taiwan relations in favor of the People's Republic of China

Prior to the Marcos administration, the Philippine government had maintained a close relationship with the Kuomintang-ruled Republic of China (ROC) government which had fled to the island of Taiwan, despite the victory of the Communist Party of China in the 1949 Chinese Communist Revolution. Prior administrations had seen the People's Republic of China (PRC) as a security threat, due to its financial and military support of Communist rebels in the country.[167]

By 1969, however, Ferdinand Marcos started publicly asserting the need for the Philippines to establish a diplomatic relationship with the People's Republic of China. In his 1969 State of the Nation Address, he said:[168]

We, in Asia must strive toward a modus vivendi with Red China. I reiterate this need, which is becoming more urgent each day. Before long, Communist China will have increased its striking power a thousand fold with a sophisticated delivery system for its nuclear weapons. We must prepare for that day. We must prepare to coexist peaceably with Communist China.— Ferdinand Marcos, January 1969

In June 1975, President Marcos went to the PRC and signed a Joint Communiqué normalizing relations between the Philippines and China. Among other things, the Communiqué recognizes that "there is but one China and that Taiwan is an integral part of Chinese territory…" In turn, Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai also pledged that China would not intervene in the internal affairs of the Philippines nor seek to impose its policies in Asia, a move which isolated the local communist movement that China had financially and militarily supported.[169][170]

The Washington Post in an interview with former Philippine Communist Party Officials, revealed that, "they (local communist party officials) wound up languishing in China for 10 years as unwilling "guests" of the (Chinese) government, feuding bitterly among themselves and with the party leadership in the Philippines".[139]

The government subsequently captured NPA leaders Bernabe Buscayno in 1976 and Jose Maria Sison in 1977.[170]

First parliamentary elections after martial law declaration

The 1978 Philippine parliamentary election was held on April 7, 1978 for the election of the 166 (of the 208) regional representatives to the Interim Batasang Pambansa (the nation's first parliament). The elections were participated by several parties including Ninoy Aquino's newly formed party, the Lakas ng Bayan (LABAN) and the regime's party known as the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL).

The Ninoy Aquino's LABAN party fielded 21 candidates for the Metro Manila area including Ninoy himself and Alex Boncayao, who later was associated with Filipino communist death squad Alex Boncayao Brigade[171][172] that killed U.S. army Colonel James N. Rowe. All of the party's candidates, including Ninoy, lost in the election.

Marcos's KBL party won 137 seats, while Pusyon Bisaya led by Hilario Davide Jr., who later became the Minority Floor Leader, won 13 seats.

Prime Minister

In 1978, the position returned when Ferdinand Marcos became Prime Minister. Based on Article 9 of the 1973 constitution, it had broad executive powers that would be typical of modern prime ministers in other countries. The position was the official head of government, and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. All of the previous powers of the President from the 1935 Constitution were transferred to the newly restored office of Prime Minister. The Prime Minister also acted as head of the National Economic Development Authority. Upon his re-election to the Presidency in 1981, Marcos was succeeded as Prime Minister by an American-educated leader and Wharton graduate, Cesar Virata, who was elected as an Assemblyman (Member of the Parliament) from Cavite in 1978. He is the eponym of the Cesar Virata School of Business, the business school of the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Proclamation No. 2045

After putting in force amendments to the constitution, legislative action, and securing his sweeping powers and with the Batasan, his supposed successor body to the Congress, under his control, President Marcos issued Proclamation 2045, which technically "lifted" martial law, on January 17, 1981.

However, the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus continued in the autonomous regions of Western Mindanao and Central Mindanao. The opposition dubbed the lifting of martial law as a mere "face lifting" as a precondition to the visit of Pope John Paul II.[173]

Third term (1981–1986)

President Ferdinand E. Marcos in Washington in 1983.

President Ferdinand E. Marcos in Washington in 1983.

We love your adherence to democratic principles and to the democratic process, and we will not leave you in isolation.— U.S. Vice President George H. W. Bush during Ferdinand E. Marcos inauguration, June 1981[174][2]

On June 16, 1981, six months after the lifting of martial law, the first presidential election in twelve years was held. President Marcos ran and won a massive victory over the other candidates.[175] The major opposition parties, the United Nationalists Democratic Organizations (UNIDO), a coalition of opposition parties and LABAN, boycotted the elections.

After the lifting of Martial Law, the pressure on the Communist CPP-NPA alleviated. The group was able to return to urban areas and form relationships with legal opposition organizations, and became increasingly successful in attacks against the government throughout the country.[170] The violence inflicted by the communists reached its peak in 1985 with 1,282 military and police deaths and 1,362 civilian deaths.[170]

Aquino's assassination

On August 21, 1983, opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr. was assassinated on the tarmac at Manila International Airport. He had returned to the Philippines after three years in exile in the United States, where he had a heart bypass operation to save his life after Marcos allowed him to leave the Philippines to seek medical care. Prior to his heart surgery, Ninoy, along with his two co-accused, NPA leaders Bernabe Buscayno (Commander Dante) and Lt. Victor Corpuz, were sentenced to death by a military commission on charges of murder, illegal possession of firearms and subversion.[153]

A few months before his assassination, Ninoy had decided to return to the Philippines after his research fellowship from Harvard University had finished. The opposition blamed Marcos directly for the assassination while others blamed the military and his wife, Imelda. Popular speculation pointed to three suspects; the first was Marcos himself through his trusted military chief Fabian Ver; the second theory pointed to his wife Imelda who had her own burning ambition now that her ailing husband seemed to be getting weaker, and the third theory was that Danding Cojuangco planned the assassination because of his own political ambitions.[176] The 1985 acquittals of Chief of Staff General Fabian Ver as well as other high-ranking military officers charged with the crime were widely seen as a whitewash and a miscarriage of justice.

On November 22, 2007, Pablo Martinez, one of the convicted suspects in the assassination of Ninoy Aquino Jr. alleged that it was Ninoy Aquino Jr.'s relative, Danding Cojuangco, cousin of his wife Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, who ordered the assassination of Ninoy Aquino Jr. while Marcos was recuperating from his kidney transplant. Martinez also alleged only he and Galman knew of the assassination, and that Galman was the actual shooter, which is not corroborated by other evidence of the case.[177]

Impeachment attempt

In August 1985, 56 Assemblymen signed a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Marcos for alleged diversion of U.S. aid for personal use,[178] citing a July 1985 San Jose Mercury News exposé of the Marcos's multimillion-dollar investment and property holdings in the United States.

The properties allegedly amassed by the First Family were the Crown Building, Lindenmere Estate, and a number of residential apartments (in New Jersey and New York), a shopping center in New York, mansions (in London, Rome and Honolulu), the Helen Knudsen Estate in Hawaii and three condominiums in San Francisco, California.

The Assembly also included in the complaint the misuse and misapplication of funds "for the construction of the Manila Film Center, where X-rated and pornographic films are exhibited, contrary to public morals and Filipino customs and traditions." The impeachment attempt gained little real traction, however, even in the light of this incendiary charge; the committee to which the impeachment resolution was referred did not recommend it, and any momentum for removing Marcos under constitutional processes soon died.

Physical decline

During his third term, Marcos's health deteriorated rapidly due to kidney ailments, as a complication of a chronic autoimmune disease lupus erythematosus. He had a kidney transplant in August 1983, and when his body rejected the first kidney transplant, he had a second transplant in November 1984.[179] Marcos's regime was sensitive to publicity of his condition; a palace physician who alleged that during one of these periods Marcos had undergone a kidney transplant was shortly afterwards found murdered. Police said he was kidnapped and slain by communist rebels.[179] Many people questioned whether he still had capacity to govern, due to his grave illness and the ballooning political unrest.[180] With Marcos ailing, his powerful wife, Imelda, emerged as the government's main public figure. Marcos dismissed speculations of his ailing health as he used to be an avid golfer and fitness buff who liked showing off his physique.

By 1984, U.S. President Ronald Reagan started distancing himself from the Marcos regime that he and previous American presidents had strongly supported even after Marcos declared martial law. The United States, which had provided hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, was crucial in buttressing Marcos's rule over the years,[181] although during the Carter administration the relationship with the U.S. had soured somewhat when President Jimmy Carter targeted the Philippines in his human rights campaign.


Cabinet under the Third Republic

Cabinet during the Martial Law period until 1986

Economic performance

The 21-year period of Philippine economic history during Ferdinand Marcos' regime - from his election in 1965 until he was ousted by the People Power Revolution in 1986- was a period of significant economic highs and lows.[187][188][189][11]


To help finance a number of economic development projects, the Marcos government borrowed large amounts of money from international lenders.[190][191] The external debt of the Philippines rose more than 70-fold from $360 million in 1962 to $26.2 billion in 1985,[192] making the Philippines one of the most indebted countries in Asia.[190] Philippine Annual Gross Domestic Product grew from $5.27 billion in 1964 to $37.14 billion in 1982, a year prior to the assassination of Ninoy Aquino. The GDP went down to $30.7 billion in 1985, after two years of economic recession brought about by political instability following Ninoy's assassination.[193] A considerable amount of this money went to the Marcos family and friends in the form of behest loans.

Reliance on US trade

As a former colony of the United States, the Philippines was heavily reliant on the American economy to purchase agricultural goods such as sugar,[194] tobacco, coconut, bananas, and pineapple[195][196] and US corporations prospered.

Economy during martial law (1973–1980)

According to World Bank Data, the Philippine's Annual Gross Domestic Product quadrupled from $8 billion in 1972 to $32.45 billion in 1980, for an inflation-adjusted average growth rate of 6% per year, while debt stood at US$17.2 billion by the end of 1980.[193][197] Indeed, according to the U.S.-based Heritage Foundation, the Philippines enjoyed its best economic development since 1945 between 1972 and 1979.[198] The economy grew amidsts two severe global oil shocks following the 1973 oil crisis and 1979 energy crisis – oil price was $3 / barrel in 1973 and $39.5 in 1979, or a growth of 1200%. By the end of 1979, debt was still manageable, with debt to Debt-GNP ratio about the same as South Korea, according to th US National Bureau of Economic Research.[197]

Foreign capital was invited to invest in certain industrial projects. They were offered incentives, including tax exemption privileges and the privilege of bringing out their profits in foreign currencies. One of the most important economic programs in the 1980s was the Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran (Movement for Livelihood and Progress). This program was started in September 1981. It aimed to promote the economic development of the barangays by encouraging its residents to engage in their own livelihood projects. The government's efforts resulted in the increase of the nation's economic growth rate to an average of six percent or seven percent from 1970 to 1980.[199]

Economy after martial law (1981–1985)

Marcos at the North–South Summit on International Cooperation and Development in Cancun alongside other world leaders including I. Gandhi, F. Mitterrand, R. Reagan, M. Thatcher, K. Waldheim, Zhao Ziyang; October 23, 1981.

Marcos at the North–South Summit on International Cooperation and Development in Cancun alongside other world leaders including I. Gandhi, F. Mitterrand, R. Reagan, M. Thatcher, K. Waldheim, Zhao Ziyang; October 23, 1981.

The Philippine economy, heavily reliant on exports to the United States, suffered a great decline after the Aquino assassination in August 1983 because Filipino business and political leaders who studied in Harvard, Yale, and other US universities began lobbying American and foreign firms to discourage them from investing in the Philippines. This was taking place at the same time that China was beginning to accept free-market capitalism and American businesses were jockeying to establish manufacturing plants in China. The political troubles of the Philippines hindered the entry of foreign investments, and foreign banks stopped granting loans to the Philippine government.

In an attempt to launch a national economic recovery program and despite his growing isolation from American businesses, Marcos negotiated with foreign creditors including the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for a restructuring of the country's foreign debts – to give the Philippines more time to pay the loans. Marcos ordered a cut in government expenditures and used a portion of the savings to finance the Sariling Sikap (Self-Reliance), a livelihood program he established in 1984.

However, the economy continued to shrink despite the government's recovery efforts due to a number of reasons. Most of the so-called government development programs failed to materialize. Government funds were often siphoned off by Marcos or his cronies. American investors were discouraged by the Filipino economic elite who were against the corruption that by now had become endemic in the Marcos regime.[200] The failure of the recovery program was further augmented by civil unrest, rampant graft and corruption within the government, and Marcos's lack of credibility. The unemployment rate increased from 6.25% in 1972 to 11.058% in 1985.[201]

Considering the severe 1984–1985 recession, the Philippine economy annual growth rate from 1972 to 1985 of 3.4% is significantly lower than the 5.4% growth rate achieved by other countries in ASEAN (Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore) in the same time period.[35]

Creation of the Credit Information Bureau

In 1981, Ferdinand Marcos issued Letter of Instructions No. 1107 mandating the Central Bank of the Philippines to analyze the probability of establishing and funding the operation of a credit bureau in the Philippines due to the disturbing increase of failures on corporate borrowers.[202] In adherence to the order, Central Bank of the Philippines organized the Credit Information Exchange System under the department of Loans and Credit. It was created to engage in collating, developing and analyzing credit information on individuals, institutions, business entities and other business concerns. It aims to develop and undertake the continuing exchange of credit data within its members and subscribers and to provide an impartial source of credit information for debtors, creditors and the public. On April 14, 1982, Credit Information Bureau, Inc. was incorporated as a non-stock, non-profit corporation. CIBI was created pursuant to LOI No. 1107 dated February 16, 1981 and was further strengthened by PD No. 1941 which recognizes and supports CIBI as a suitable credit bureau to promote the development and maintenance of rational and efficient credit processes in the financial system and in the economy as a whole. In 1997, Credit Information Bureau, Inc. was incorporated and transformed into a private entity and became CIBI Information, Inc. CIBI is a provider of information and intelligence for business, credit and individuals.[203] The company also supplies compliance reports before accrediting suppliers, industry partners and even hiring professionals.[204]

Economic controversies

According to the book The Making of the Philippines by Frank Senauth (p. 103):[205]

Marcos himself diverted large sums of government money to his party's campaign funds. Between 1972 and 1980, the average monthly income of wage workers had fallen by 20%. By 1981, the wealthiest 10% of the population was receiving twice as much income as the bottom 60%.[206]

The country's total external debt rose from US$2.3 billion in 1970 to US$26.2 billion in 1985 during Marcos's term. Marcos's critics charged that policies have become debt-driven with rampant corruption and plunder of public funds by Marcos and his cronies. This held the country under a debt-servicing crisis which is expected to be fixed by only 2025. Critics have pointed out an elusive state of the country's development as the period is marred by a sharp devaluing of the Philippine Peso from 3.9 to 20.53. The overall economy experienced a slower growth GDP per capita, lower wage conditions and higher unemployment especially towards the end of Marcos's term after the 1983–1984 recession. Some of Marcos's critics claimed that poverty incidence grew from 41% in the 1960s at the time Marcos took the Presidency to 59% when he was removed from power,[207][208][197][209][210][211]

From 1972 to 1980, agricultural production fell by 30%. After declaring martial law in 1972, Marcos promised to implement agrarian reforms. However, the land reforms served largely to undermine Marcos's landholder opponents, not to lessen inequality in the countryside,[212] and encouraged conversion to cash tenancy and greater reliance on farm workers.[213] Under Marcos, timber products were among the nation's top exports but little attention was paid to the environmental impacts of deforestation as cronies never complied with reforestation agreements. By the early 1980s, forestry collapsed because most of the Philippines' accessible forests had been depleted—of the 12 million hectares of forestland, about 7 million had been left barren."[214][215]

While the book claimed that agricultural production declined by 30% in the 1970s and suggested that timber exports were growing in the same period, an article published by the World Bank on Philippine Agriculture says that crops (rice, corn, coconut, sugar), livestock and poultry and fisheries grew at an average rate of 6.8%, 3% and 4.5%, respectively from 1970 to 1980, and the forestry sector actually declined by an annual average rate of 4.4% through the 1970s.[216]

Despite claims made by the book that land reforms served largely to undermine Marcos's landholder opponents, Marcos's government did not distribute to small farmers his political rival Ninoy Aquino's family's 6,453 hectare Hacienda Luisita plantation, the biggest in the country.[217][218]

By 1960 the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations had worked with the Garcia administration and the UP College of Agriculture to establish the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Laguna,[219] [] signaling the rise of the Green Revolution (industrialized, chemical agriculture) to the Philippines.[220] In the late '60s, the Marcos administration took advantage of IRRI's new "miracle rice" cultivar (IR8),[220] promoting its use throughout the Philippines. While this resulted in annual rice production in the Philippines increasing from 3.7 to 7.7 million tons in two decades and made the Philippines a rice exporter for the first time in the 20th century,[221][222] the switch to IR8 required more fertilizers and pesticides. This and other related reforms resulted in high profits for transnational corporations, but were generally harmful to small, peasant farmers who were often pushed into poverty.[223]

Snap election, revolution

In late 1985, in the face of escalating public discontent and under pressure from foreign allies, Marcos called a "snap election" with more than a year left in his term. He selected Arturo Tolentino as his running mate. The opposition to Marcos united behind two American-educated leaders, Aquino's widow, Corazon, and her running mate, Salvador Laurel.[224][225]

It was during this time that Marcos's World War II medals for fighting the Japanese Occupation was first questioned by the foreign press. During a campaign in Manila's Tondo district, Marcos retorted:[226]

You who are here in Tondo and fought under me and who were part of my guerrilla organization—you answer them, these crazy individuals, especially the foreign press. Our opponents say Marcos was not a real guerrilla. Look at them. These people who were collaborating with the enemy when we were fighting the enemy. Now they have the nerve to question my war record. I will not pay any attention to their accusation.— Ferdinand Marcos, January 1986

Marcos was referring to both presidential candidate Corazon Aquino's father-in-law Benigno Aquino Sr. and vice presidential candidate Salvador Laurel's father, José P. Laurel, who were leaders of the KALIBAPI, a puppet political party that collaborated with the Japanese during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Both were arrested and charged for treason after the war.[227]

The elections were held on February 7, 1986.[228] The official election canvasser, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), declared Marcos the winner. The final tally of the COMELEC had Marcos winning with 10,807,197 votes against Aquino's 9,291,761 votes. On the other hand, the partial 69% tally of the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), an accredited poll watcher, had Aquino winning with 7,502,601 votes against Marcos's 6,787,556 votes. Cheating was reported on both sides.[229] This electoral exercise was marred by widespread reports of violence and tampering of election results.

Despite common knowledge that Marcos cheated the elections, some claim that Marcos is the one that had been cheated by NAMFREL because his Solid North votes were transmitted very late to the tabulation center at the PICC. Two Namfrel volunteers were hanged in Ilocos. The Ilocano votes were enough to overwhelm Cory's lead in Metro Manila and other places.[230]

The alleged fraud culminated in the walkout of 35 COMELEC computer technicians to protest the manipulation of the official election results to favor Ferdinand Marcos. The walkout of computer technicians was led by Linda Kapunan[231] and the technicians were protected by Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) officers led by her husband Lt. Col. Eduardo "Red" Kapunan. RAM, led by Lt. Col. Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan and backed by Enrile had plotted a coup d'etat to seize Malacañang and kill Marcos and his family.[232]

The failed election process gave a decisive boost to the "People Power movement." Enrile and Ramos would later abandon Marcos's 'sinking ship' and seek protection behind the 1986 People Power Revolution, backed by fellow-American educated Eugenio Lopez Jr., Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, and the old political and economic elites. At the height of the revolution, Juan Ponce Enrile revealed that a purported and well-publicized ambush attempt against him years earlier was in fact faked, in order for Marcos to have a pretext for imposing martial law. However, Marcos never ceased to maintain that he was the duly elected and proclaimed president of the Philippines for a fourth term, but unfairly and illegally deprived of his right to serve it. On February 25, 1986, rival presidential inaugurations were held,[233] but as Aquino supporters overran parts of Manila and seized state broadcaster PTV-4, Marcos was forced to flee.[234]

Exile in Hawaii

Fleeing from the Philippines to Hawaii

Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos on a walk with U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos on a walk with U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

At 15:00 PST (GMT+8) on February 25, 1986, Marcos talked to United States Senator Paul Laxalt, a close associate of the United States President, Ronald Reagan, asking for advice from the White House. Laxalt advised him to "cut and cut cleanly", to which Marcos expressed his disappointment after a short pause.[235] In the afternoon, Marcos talked to Enrile, asking for safe passage for him and his family, and included his close allies like General Ver. Finally, at 9:00 p.m., the Marcos family was transported by four Sikorsky HH-3E helicopters[236] to Clark Air Base in Angeles City, Pampanga, about 83 kilometers north of Manila, before boarding US Air Force C-130 planes bound for Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, and finally to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii where Marcos arrived on February 26.

As per the official 23-page US Customs record, the two C-141 transport planes that carried the Marcos family and their closest allies had 23 wooden crates; 12 suitcases and bags, and various boxes, whose contents included enough clothes to fill 67 racks; 413 pieces of jewelry; 24 gold bricks, inscribed "To my husband on our 24th anniversary"; and more than 27m Philippine pesos in freshly printed notes. The jewelry included 70 pairs of jewel-studded cufflinks; an ivory statue of the infant Jesus with a silver mantle and a diamond necklace. The total value of these items was $15 millon.[237] Meanwhile, when protestors stormed Malacañang Palace shortly after their departure, it was famously discovered that Imelda had left behind over 2,700 pairs of shoes in her closet.[238]

The Catholic hierarchy and Manila's middle class were crucial to the success of the massive crusade, but only within Metro Manila because no mass demonstrations or protests against Marcos occurred in the provinces and islands of Visayas and Mindanao.

Plans to return to the Philippines and 'The Marcos Tapes'

More than a year after the People Power Revolution, it was revealed to the United States House Foreign Affairs subcommittee in 1987 that Marcos held an intention to fly back to the Philippines and overthrow the Aquino government. Two Americans, namely attorney Richard Hirschfeld and business consultant Robert Chastain, both of whom posed as arms dealers, gained knowledge of a plot by gaining Marcos' trust and secretly tape recorded their conversations with the ousted leader.

According to Hirschfeld, he was first invited by Marcos to a party held at the latter's family residence in Oahu, Hawaii. After hearing that one of Hirschfeld's clients was Saudi Sheikh Mohammad Fassi, Marcos' interest was piqued because he had done business with Saudis in the past. A few weeks later, Marcos asked for help with securing a passport from another country, in order to travel back to the Philippines while bypassing travel restrictions imposed by the Philippines and United States governments. This failed, however, and subsequently Marcos asked Hirschfeld to arrange a $10-million loan from Fassi.

On January 12, 1987, Marcos stated to Hirschfeld that he required another $5-million loan "in order to pay 10,000 soldiers $500 each as a form of 'combat life insurance.' When asked by Hirschfeld if he was talking about an invasion of the Philippines, Marcos responded, "Yes." Hirschfeld also recalled that the former president said that he was negotiating with several arms dealers to purchase up to $18 million worth of weapons, including tanks and heat-seeking missiles, and enough ammunition to "last an army three months."

Marcos had thought of being flown to his hometown in Ilocos Norte, greeted by his loyal supporters, and initiating a plot to kidnap Corazon Aquino. ″What I would like to see happen is we take her hostage,″ Marcos told Chastain. ″Not to hurt her ... no reason to hurt her .. to take her.″

Learning of this plan, Hirschfeld contacted the US Department of Justice, and was asked for further evidence. This information eventually reached President Ronald Reagan, who placed Marcos under "island arrest", further limiting his movement.[239][240]

In response, the Aquino government dismissed Marcos' statements as being a mere propaganda ploy.[241]

Corruption in the Marcos Era


Ferdinand Marcos in Washington, 1983

Ferdinand Marcos in Washington, 1983

Marcos’ administration spawned new oligarchs in Philippine society who became instant millionaires. These oligarchs plundered government financing institutions to finance their corporate raiding, monopolies and various takeover schemes. Marcos’ cronies were awarded timber, mining and oil concessions and vast tracts of rich government agricultural and urban lands, not to mention lush government construction contracts. During his martial law regime, Marcos confiscated and appropriated by force and duress many businesses and institutions, both private and public, and redistributed them to his cronies and close personal friends. A presidential crony representing Westington won for its principal the $500 million bid for the construction of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant in Bagac. The crony’s commission was $25 million or $200 million representing five percent of the total bid price. These new oligarchs were known to be insatiable and more profligate than the oligarchs of pre-martial law days.[242] Two of Marcos' friends were Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr., who would go on to control San Miguel Corporation, and Ramon Cojuangco, late businessman and chairman of PLDT, and father of Antonio "Tony Boy" Cojuangco (who would eventually succeed his father in the telecommunications company), both happened to be cousins of Corazon Aquino. These associates of Marcos then used these as fronts to launder proceeds from institutionalized graft and corruption in the different national governmental agencies as "crony capitalism" for personal benefit. Graft and corruption via bribery, racketeering, and embezzlement became more prevalent during this era. Marcos also silenced the free press, making the press of the state propaganda the only legal one, which was a common practice for governments around the world that sought to fight communism.

Marcos and his close Rolex 12 associates like Juan Ponce Enrile used their powers to settle scores against old rivals such as the Lopezes who were always opposed to the Marcos administration. Enrile and the Lopezes (Eugenio Lopez Sr. and Eugenio Lopez Jr.) were Harvard-educated Filipino leaders. Leading opponents such as Senators Benigno Aquino Jr., Jose Diokno, Jovito Salonga and many others were imprisoned for months or years. This practice considerably alienated the support of the old social and economic elite and the media, who criticized the Marcos administration endlessly.[243] The old social and economic elite, all of whom relied on trade and agricultural and industrial exports to the United States such as the families of Enrile, Lopez, Cojuangco, and Aquino, sought a free-market economy. At this point, Marcos controlled both the oligarchy and the oligopoly.

Establishment of Metro Manila

Without the consent of the people of Manila and environs, Marcos merged four neighboring cities and thirteen municipalities into a Metro Manila. Without the consent of residents of the merged cities and municipalities, he appointed his wife, Imelda Marcos as governor of Metro Manila - the second most powerful office in the republic. Given that Metro Manila accounts for around 20% of the country’s population, it is estimated to be responsible for at least 70% of gross national receipts. It is the seat of the national government and some 90% of the national government’s offices and instrumentalities are located within its environs. Its budget is second to the national government. In the words of Carlos P. Romulo, Mrs. Marcos was the de facto Vice President of the Philippines. Because of this, the Marcoses possessed a monopoly of power.[242]

Floating Casino in Manila Bay

One of the first acts of Imelda Romualdez Marcos as the Governor of Metro Manila was to legalize gambling to raise revenue for the new metropolis. A floating casino was allowed to operate exclusively inside the Manila Bay. It is owned and operated by “mysterious” stockholders according to the major daily. However, the people of Manila are aware that behind the floating casino management was the brother of Imelda Marcos. One of the most lucrative gambling managements back then was the Jai-Alai, managed by a corporation that received its franchise from the pre-war Commonwealth government. As soon as its franchised expired, a new corporation took over management of Jai-Alai. It was immediately under the control of the First Lady’s brother. This new management was allowed to perform operations denied from the former, and it is estimated that the take between the Jai-Alai fronton and the floating casino is Php 2 million a day.[242]

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT)

Reports of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission have described massive million-dollar bribes to officials of the government-backed Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company by the General Telephone and Electric Co. of New York in exchange for supply contracts. The officials of PLDT needed to be investigated for violations of foreign currency regulations and unearned income. However, different stakeholders were kept silent. As one PLDT official boasted “an expose will only hurt the Palace.” In the U.S. and Japan, presidents have been driven out of office for similar misconduct.[242]

Manila Electric Co. (MERALCO)

The Manila Electric Co. (MERALCO) was one of the largest corporations in the Philippines before the declaration of Martial Law. It was owned and controlled by the Lopez family. After martial law was imposed, it became the prime target for takeover by the Marcos-Romualdez family. Among the first things the clan did was to arrest the eldest son of Eugenio Lopez, Sr., the major stockholder of Meralco for allegedly plotting the assassination of Ferdinand Marcos.

In the years 1973-1974, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) started applying the oil prize squeeze. As a public utility that supplies power needs of the metro, MERALCO was caught in a vicious vise. Its fuel costs started to double, triple, and quadruple but the government refused to allow them to charge higher consumer rates. Within a year, MERALCO was at the brink of bankruptcy. Government financing institutions refused to guarantee MERALCO’s foreign loans. As a result, the company was pushed to the edge of massive defaults in loans.

It was here that the Marcos-Romualdez clan stepped in. According to Eugenio Lopez, Sr., he was promised the release of his eldest son from prison in exchange for the sale of his control in MERALCO to the Marcos-Romualdez group. After several months of negotiations and with the increasing loan defaults, Mr. Lopez conceded defeat. He even died without seeing his son Eugenio, Jr. released from the Marcos martial law prison.

After the Marcos-Romualdez takeover, the government allowed MERALCO to increase consumer rates. The government gave huge subsidies to the company. On the fifth anniversary of martial rule, Jesus Bigornia of Bulletin Today wrote that MERALCO rose as one of the top earners. Around Php 200 million in net income was recorded. This was 168% more than the previous year. Aside from being allowed to raise electricity rates, MERALCO was also exempted from paying the duty of oil imports, which is a form of indirect subsidy it should share with poor consumers.[242]

Infrastructure projects

Ferdinand Marcos’s term was characterized by booming infrastructure,[244] but to the detriment of the economy and of the lives of Filipinos.[245][246][247] Most of Marcos’s infrastructure projects were funded by loans that greatly increased the Philippines’ foreign deficit from $360 million in 1962, when Marcos became president, to around $28.3 billion in 1986, when he was overthrown.[247] Many of these projects were rushed, and so were not safe for long-term use.[247]

Primitivo Mijares discusses these projects in his book, The Conjugal Dictatorship: “Actually, the Imelda projects for which she has been greatly admired and credited for pushing are most expensive. The Cultural Center, the Folk Arts Theatre, the Heart Foundation, the Nutrition Center, etc. are extravagantly financed with public and private funds. I would estimate that, if the normal expenditures for one project is made known to the President and to the public as consisting say Pl million, Imelda would normally push it through at a minimum cost of F5 million.”[248]

The following is a list of some of the most controversial projects constructed during the Marcos era.

Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Complex

The CCP Complex is an 77-hectare[249] reclaimed property in Pasay City designed by Leandro Locsin. It includes the CCP main building, Folk Arts Theater, Philippine International Convention Center, Manila Film Center and Coconut Palace (also called the “Tahanang Pilipino”).[250] It was established as a result of Ferdinand Marcos’s issuance of Executive Order No. 30 s. 1966, which stated that “the preservation and promotion of Philippine culture in all its varied aspects and phases is a vital concern of the State.”[251] Following this issuance, he appointed a seven-member board of trustees, who then unanimously elected Imelda Romualdez Marcos as its chair.[250]

On September 8, 1969, the CCP main building was inaugurated as the “country’s premier arts institution.”[252] The inauguration was originally set in January 1969, but was postponed because funds were running out from campaign overspending. The projected budget for the construction of CCP was P15 million, but by December 1968 the cost had already reached P48 million, and the construction was not even complete yet. Because of this, Imelda Romualdez Marcos loaned $7 million from the National Investment Development Corporation to finance the remaining amount. By 1972, debt for the construction of the theater alone has reached P63 million.[250]

Manila Film Center

Construction of the Manila Film Center began in January 1981 and was spearheaded by Imelda Romualdez Marcos. It costed $25 million.[247][253]

Construction work was compressed to just 10 months so it could be used as a venue for the first Manila International Film Festival scheduled on January 18, 1982.[250] To meet the deadline, around 4,000 workers were employed to work three 24-hour non-stop shifts. The lobby, which would normally take 6 weeks to finish, was constructed in 72 hours by 1,000 workers.[247]

As a result of the rushed construction, a scaffolding collapsed on a group of workers in November 17, 1981, two months before the deadline.[250] Despite the accident, work continued, and the bodies of the workers were buried in cement. Rescuers and ambulances were only permitted to enter the site 9 hours after the incident.[247]

Following the tragedy, then Prime Minister Cesar Virata disapproved the $5 million subsidy, which was intended for the film festival.[254] The expenses incurred during opening night and the Film Center’s operations ended up being shouldered by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (then the Central Bank).[250]

Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) is one of the six nuclear power plants that the Marcos regime planned to build.[255] It stands in Morong, Bataan, atop Napot Point that overlooks the West Philippine Sea. Construction of the BNPP began in 1976 and was completed in 1985.[256]

Controversy surrounding the BNPP began well after its construction. In 1974, National Power was already negotiating with General Electric to get the order. However, Westinghouse, another energy company, hired a lobbyist: Herminio Disini, a friend of Ferdinand Marcos. Using his proximity to Marcos, Westinghouse made a direct offer to Marcos and his cabinet to supply a plant with two 620 Mw reactors at a base price of $500 million. The estimated total price was raised to around $650 million because of other charges like fuel and transmission lines.[255] Soon after, the negotiations with General Electric were scrapped, and Westinghouse won the deal. By March 1975, Westinghouse’s contract price increased to $1.1 billion for interest and escalation costs.[255]

There were numerous issues regarding its safety and usability. After the Three Mile Island incident in the United States, construction of the nuclear power plant was stopped. A safety inquiry was done subsequently, which revealed over 4,000 defects.[255] The site chosen for the nuclear plant was also dangerous, as it was built near the open sea, the then-dormant Mount Pinatubo, and was within 25 miles of three geological faults.[255] The nuclear plant was discontinued in 1986 following the Chernobyl disaster.[247] Its goal of generating 620 Mw of electricity was never achieved.[257]

Its cost reached over $2.3 million and was only paid off by the government in April 2017, 31 years after the beginning of its construction. However, government spending for the BNPP continues long after that. Maintaining the plant costs the government P40 million a year. In 2011, the government had to reimburse P4.2 billion to National Power Corporation for the plant’s maintenance. To contribute to the cost of its maintenance, it was transformed into a tourist attraction.[247]

San Juanico Bridge

San Juanico Bridge connecting Leyte and Samar

San Juanico Bridge connecting Leyte and Samar

The San Juanico Bridge is part of the Pan-Philippine Highway and links the provinces of Leyte and Samar through Tacloban City and Santa Rita, Samar. Having a total length of 2.16 kilometers, it is the longest bridge over a body of water in the Philippines.[258] It is said to be Ferdinand Marcos’s gift to his wife Imelda, whose hometown was Leyte.[259]

Construction of the bridge began in 1969. It was inaugurated on July 2, 1973, in time for Imelda Marcos’s birthday. The cost of the construction reached $22 million and was acquired through the Japanese Official Development Assistance loans.[260]

At the time the project was conceived, there was not a need yet for a bridge that connects Leyte and Samar, for both of these provinces were still relatively underdeveloped. There was not enough traffic between these two islands to warrant a bridge to be constructed there. It is for this reason that the San Juanico Bridge remains to be the one of the costliest white elephant projects during the Marcos era.[260]

Marcos' Green Revolution

The Green Revolution is a set of research technology transfer initiatives from the 1950s to 1960s that increased agricultural production worldwide, particularly in developing countries such as the Philippines.[261]

With the support of the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) was established in the Philippines. By 1966, the rice variety IR-8 was created. It required intensive irrigation, plenty of fertilizer, and chemical pesticides, but produced substantially higher yields.[261]

This lead to the creation of Ferdinand Marcos major programs, Presidential Decree No. 27, the Masagana 99 agricultural program, which had the goal of producing 99 sacks or 4.4 tons of unmilled rice per hectare to ensure self-sufficiency in food.[262]

Annual rice production in the Philippines increased from 3.7 to 7.7 million tons in two decades.The switch to IR8 rice made the Philippines a rice exporter for the first time in the 20th century.[262]

Although IR8 should promising results, the years from 1965 to 1986 showed a complete paradox of events. The income per capita rose, the economy was growing, yet people were in famine. The American economist James K. Boyce calls this phenomenon “immiserizing growth,” when economic growth, and political and social conditions are such that the rich get absolutely richer and the poor become absolutely poorer.[263]

Gonzalo Gatan’s Pesticide case

One of the possible causes to this was the case reported by Gonzalo Gatan of the Manila Pest Control Company against the key implementors of Masagana 99. He was allegedly unable to introduce his agricultural pesticides to the market due to the "conivance" between transnational corporations (TNCs) that dominated the production and distribution of chemicals and the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) (Ofreno 1982: 109). In the production of IR8 rice, FPA specified that only certain agricultural pesticides, all of which were German and American pesticide imports, were to be used. Any other pesticide needed to undergo tests at the National Crop Protection Center and at the Bureau of Plant Industry, whose laboratories were headed by German and American specialists. These laboratories were said to have been set up through RP-German Crop Protection Agreement and with the help of the United States Agency for International Development. Therefore, none of Gatan’s formulations made it to the FPA recommended pesticides (Ofreno 1982: 109-110).[264] Probably any other local pesticide which that tried to penetrate the market faced the same fate.

Marcos’ Land Control

Marcos also allegedly took feudal control of landlords by only covering rice and corn lands to Masagana 99, excluding the vast sugar haciendas of his crony Danding Cojuangco and even Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

Effects of Masagana 99

After the declaration of Martial Law in 1972, the gap between the rich and the poor became significantly wide. Possible gains from Masagana 99 were either going out of the country or going to the rich alone. Even if rice supply was high and prices were down, people could not afford to buy rice. In a 1979 review of Philippine grain production policy, the World Bank found that total rice consumption in the 1970s slowed, growing at only 2.9%, barely in step with the rate of population increase. Studies by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute found that by 1982, two thirds of families consumed less than the recommended minimum daily calorie intake. 25% of the country’s pre-schoolers were stunted, 14% were wasted, and an appalling 69% were underweight. Between 1970 and 1983, infant mortality was at 59 per 1,000 in rural areas and 55 per 1,000 in urban areas – among the highest in East and Southeast Asia. The cause of infant and child deaths could be directly traced to hunger and a lack of basic health care services.[263]

Overseas investments and bank accounts

The overseas properties of Marcos and his associates created an empire spanning places as diverse as California, Washington, New York, Rome, Vienna, Australia, Antilles, the Netherlands, Hong Kong,  Switzerland and Singapore.[265] The more popular properties among those in this empire are the multi-million dollar New York real estate investments, California banks and Swiss bank accounts; lesser known ones are villas in Austria, London, and Rome, gold and diamond investments in South Africa, and banks and hotels in Israel.

There were ten prominent Filipinos, led by Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos, who acquired, presumably illegally, various extensive properties in the U.S. They were Roberto Benedicto, Antonio Floirendo, Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose Yao Campos, Eduardo Cojuangco, Roman Cruz, Jr., Geronimo Velasco, and Rodolfo Cuenca.[266] Other nominees who were noted as having been crucial in considerable overseas transactions were Ricardo Silverio, Herminio Disini, Nemesio Yabi and Edna Camam.[266] Dewey Dee, one of Marcos’ main nominees, as well as Jose Yao Campos would later reveal how they fronted Marcos’ investments both locally and abroad via at least twenty five interlocking corporations set up for this purpose.

The main way the Marcoses were able to get money abroad was via the laundering of dirty money. Contrary to images commonly conjured by the word "dirty", dirty money, as defined by Jean Ziegler, who wrote extensively about the faults of the Swiss banking system, is simply "capital whose transfer does not relate to any repayment of debt or trading transaction." The notion that dirty money is money which was stolen via dirty means has been used by various officials to excuse the unreasonable transfer of capital abroad, defending themselves through trite legalisms and the urgency of preserving money amidst local hyperinflation and political instability, as well as to completely deny its existence.[265]  Estelito Mendoza, Marcos’ Solicitor General, is quoted in Ricardo Manapat's book Some Are Smarter than Others: The History of Marcos' Crony Capitalism as defining dirty money as money whose "value moves merely in one direction without any equal compensatory movement in the other."[265]

The process by which Marcos laundered dirty money abroad was very comprehensive and difficult to track. First, overseas bank accounts were established in order to have easy access to the funds without concern for Philippine exchange laws. Often, cronies would choose distinguished U.S. law firms which specialized in offshore real investment in U.S. jurisdictions.[266] Then, a lawyer or accountant would be contacted to establish an offshore corporation, usually in Hong Kong, to serve as the managing director of the corporation. A "shell" company, organized solely for the purpose of moving and hiding the true ownership of assets served as a channel for transferring funds from the Philippines inconspicuously.[266][265] As this happened, another lawyers, often in the U.S., would be hired for a fee of S200 to S3,000 to arrange for the incorporation of another offshore corporation through accounting firms in Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles.[266] This would become the significant link between the real estate investment and the client. By this point, it would be more more and more convoluted, becoming in the process much more difficult to track. One San Francisco lawyer, who represented affluent Filipino investors in California land deals, said "You’ll never find out who the principals are. Every time I have ever dealt with these guys, I have never dealt with a document signed by a principal." The Marcos group used this very complicated and developed "laundering" process of involving multiple layers of dummy corporations scattered internationally to acquire and establish several multimillion assets in various U.S. locations.[266]

Marcos, through different international banks, was able to launder money abroad. Crocker National Bank in San Francisco, for example, had to settle with the US Treasury Department, because they failed to report $4 billion in cash deposits from 1980 to 1984 from six Hong Kong-based banks.[265] Hong Kong was a favorite among Filipino launderers. Due to the absence of foreign exchange controls in Hong Kong, it was impossible to determine the origin of the money.

Crocker merely stated that the money came from "various Asian countries."[265] The compliance of private banks with anonymous individuals looking to deposit their money enabled money laundering. Consequently, money laundering is an integral part of private banking. Marcos would later go on to seek the help of other private banks in Switzerland, Hong Kong, Austria, Panama, Liechtenstein, and the Netherland Antilles. The Swiss are known for their mastery in money laundering thanks to the central role of secrecy in their society.[265] Austria, which also has its own tradition of banking secrecy, allowed accounts to be opened without the client ever revealing his or her name, something Swiss banks did not even allow.[265] Hong Kong, more conveniently located for the Philippines, has developed facilities for the movement of money and the ready availability of various British lawyers who offer services of opening front or "shell" corporations for a fee. Panama is noted for its corrupt politicians and convenient transit point to the U.S.[265] The Netherland Antilles served as the home for more than 35,000 shell companies of Marcos in order to invest anonymously in overseas financial markets and U.S. real estates.[265] Throughout the entire process, highly-paid lawyers, accountants, investment consultants and portfolio managers were hired in order to organize shell corporations and acquire overseas properties.[265]

The Marcoses invested a lot in the US East and West coasts, but there were also important investments in Texas and Washington state.[265] Most of the major real estate investments were Imelda’s purchases of real estate in New York, Jose Campos Yao’s investments in Texas and Seattle, and crony purchases in California.[265]

Jose Campos Yao, a Marcos ally and crony, along with his associates, purchased a whole city block in Seattle, Washington in 1983. He used the Unam Investment Corp., a shell corporation based in Netherlands Antilles and a corporation he is the president of, and purchased the Seattle real estate worth S9,178,215 on May 13, 1983.[265] Included in the acquisition are 600 Pike Street, 614 Pike Street, 1506 Sixth Avenue, 1520 Sixth Avenue, 151 Seventh Avenue, 1521 Seventh Avenue and 1575 Seventh Avenue. Throughout the entire process of the purchase, Yao and his associates hid their identities from the Seattle attorney and worked through Simeon Dee until the final negotiations.[265]

In Texas, Yao also purchased a 5,000 acres of prime land in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The land included Tarrant County, Dallas as well as in San Antonio and Corpus Cristi. The land would be valued at S51 million.[265]

Geronimo Velasco, Marcos’ Minister of Energy, and Rodolfo Cuenca, one of the Philippine cronies who dominated the construction industry, were both connected to several real estate purchases in California.[265] Velasco, using either Decision Research Management, a shell company in Hong Kong, or through Velasco’s nephew, Alfredo de Borja, purchased several expenses properties in California, including a mansion in Woodside for $1.5 million (price as of 1986), a condominium in Los Angeles for $675,000 (price as of June 3, 1982) and a luxury condominium in San Francisco for $400,000 (price as of 1984).[265] Cuenca, on the other hand, purchased different real estates properties in San Francisco through TRA Equities Inc., a shell corporation registered in Delaware. His purchases included a condominium, a home, two office buildings and an annex in San Francisco, as well as a home in San Bruno.[265]

In New Jersey while she was still studying, Imee Marcos, President Ferdinand Marcos’ eldest daughter, was given an 18th century estate to live in. The estate was purchased on October 26, 1982 and includes a mansion and 13 acres of land. The Marcos family spent approximately $3 to $5 million in furnishings and improvements. As for President Ferdinand Marcos’ only son, Ferdinand Jr., he was given a house in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, purchased for $119,000,  while he was studying in the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania. Another property was bought for $90,000 in the area for the servants and security that was serving his son on November 23, 1978.[265]

Imelda, in purchasing estate properties in Manhattan, organized many shell corporations based in Hong Kong, Panama and the Netherland Antilles. She elicited the help of key individuals such as Gliceria Tantoco, one of Imelda’s closest friends and business associates, Antonio Floirendo, who was instrumental in Imelda’s involvement in the lucrative sugar trading business in New York and the purchase of the Olympic Towers, Rolando Gapud, one of Marcos’ financial advisers, Fe Roa Gimenez and Vilma H. Bautista, personal assistants of Imelda, and Joseph and Ralph Bernstein, who played key roles in helping the Marcoses purchase and conceal ownership of their Manhattan properties.[265]

Imelda Marcos purchased five expensive Manhattan condominiums at the Olympic Towers, located on 5th Avenue, New York.[265] The first three condominiums were purchased by Thetaventure Ltd., a Hong kong based shell corporation, for a total of $688,000 and was remodelled for $3.75 million. The fourth and fifth condominium were bought for $270,000 and $1.1 million respectively. Imelda also purchased her own resort, the Lindenmere Estate in Center Moriches, Suffolk County, Long Island. It was estimated to be between $19 to $20 million after renovations were done. The restorations was paid for by Vilma Bautista, Imelda’s personal assistant and Luna 7 Development Corp., a corporation registered in New York.[265] The Townhouse at 13-15 East 66th, New York City, is quite a different case from the other properties, because it was not purchased by a shell corporation but by the Philippine Consulate and the Philippine National Bank. The sixth floor of the townhouse was converted into a private disco where the guests can have fun and play with giant pillows. It also housed the expensive art Imelda collected over the years.[265] Imelda would also purchase Herald Center, a shopping center worth $70 million, 200 Madison, an office building acquired for $50 million, Crown Building, a large edifice located at 730 Fifth Avenue bought for $51 million through Lasutra Corp. N.V., and 50 Wall Street, a large historic building in New York’s financial district bought for $71 million through NYLand (CF8) Ltd., a shell corporation based in the Netherlands Antilles.[265]

All of these properties and investments are only a fracture of the entire Marcos empire. The Center for Research and Communications, a Philippine private think-tank, estimated that Marcos and his cronies took away not only $10 million but $30 billion since the 1950s.[266]

The US-Marcos Relationship

Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos meet with President Reagan in 1982

Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos meet with President Reagan in 1982

All five American presidents from 1965 to 1985 were unwilling to jeopardize the US-Marcos relationship mainly to protect and retain access of the US military bases in the Philippines. However, at the same time, for the US, the Philippines was just one of its many allies, and for the Philippines, the US was its only patron. Therefore, Marcos ensured to identify himself closely to the US in order to secure a strong bargaining power with their government. Indeed, he had manipulated this American connection to sustain him during his two decades of power. US support was believed to be the only reason why Marcos remained in power.[267]

Over his term, Marcos was able to strengthen his ties to the US government. Johnson received two engineer battalions bought with the Philippine’s American aid as a form of Philippines military participation in the Vietnam War. After the fall of South Vietnam, Gerald Ford demanded better security assistance from allies, such as the Philippines. While Carter wanted to retain the US military bases in the Philippines to project military power in the Indian Ocean to guard West’s oil supply line from the Middle East.[267] All of which, Marcos granted.

Obtaining additional aid

To obtain additional aid, Marcos often leveraged on threats that caught the attention of the US government. To secure additional aid for his campaign, Marcos threatened to search every visiting American naval vessel. The US responded by assisting his campaign indirectly, injecting several million dollars into the government banking system.[268]

In another instance, when the issues of military bases heated up in the Philippines during 1969, Marcos secretly assured the US he had no desire for an American withdrawal. Yet he received warnings from the Philippine embassy in Washington that “provisions should now be made in anticipation of a possible phasing out or minimization of U.S. aid to the Republic of the Philippines, both for military aid and non-military items, considering the evolving temper of the American Congress.” Afraid, Marcos began to suggests threats again. In one of his presidential speeches, he stated that the bases were a threat to regional peace and security, while reminding the United States of its "solemn obligation" to continue aid. He warned that the bases could "imperil more than they serve our interests."[269] In the last weeks of the Ford administration, Marcos had rejected the U.S. compensation, Kissinger's package, of $1 billion in mixed grants and loans for being too small.

Trials filed against the Marcoses

Criminal history prior to political career

Ferdinand Marcos, along with his father, brother, and brother in-law was prosecuted in December 1938 for the Murder of Julio Nalundasan who had been shot on September 21, 1935. Two witnesses reported that the then 18-year old Ferdinand was the one who pulled the trigger on the elder Marcos’ political rival, who had just defeated Mariano Marcos for the second time for a seat in the National Assembly the day prior to his murder.[270] The quartet were convicted in 1940, with Ferdinand and brother in-law Lizardo receiving the death penalty for premeditated murder. However an appeal to the Supreme Court by the Marcos clan resulted in the lower court’s decision to acquit the four of all charges except contempt, in October 1940.

Sandiganbayan, Supreme Court, and International Trials

On November 9, 2018, Imelda Marcos was found “guilty beyond reasonable doubt…” by the Sandiganbayan of seven counts of graft for the private organizations set up in Switzerland during her active duty as a government official from 1968 to 1986. In less than 20 days however, the Sandiganbayan listed Imelda’s “advanced age” and health condition as considerations for allowing the accused to post bail. The Fifth Division’s (of the Sandiganbayan) ruling read that “the fact that she is of advanced age and for health reasons, consistent with the doctrine in Enrile vs Sandiganbayan, bail is allowed for these seven cases.”[271] The Supreme Court of the Philippines affirms that the Marcoses’ assets, that are beyond the legal and declared government salaries, are considered as ill-gotten wealth. In 1998 however, the Supreme Court acquitted Imelda Marcos of corruption charges from a previous graft conviction in 1993.

Some US Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit confirmed a contempt judgement in relation to the assets of Imelda and her son Bongbong in the United States. Although on a different subject matter, this judgement awarded $353.6 million to human rights victims, which was arguably the largest contempt award ever affirmed by an appellate court.

Illegal Swiss foundations

In 1986, following the overthrow of the Marcos regime, it was discovered that as early as 1968, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, under the pseudonyms William Saunders and Jane Ryan, opened four bank accounts in Swiss banks amounting to nearly $1 million.[266] Ferdinand Marcos’ salary then was only 60,000 pesos a year.[266] Imelda Marcos, on the other hand, did not have any visible means of income. Eventually, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the body created by the government of President Corazon Aquino to recover the Marcos “hidden wealth” would determine that the late dictator stole between $5 to 10 billion from the Philippine treasury.[266]

The initial deposit of under $1 million grew into hundreds of millions especially after Marcos declared martial law in 1972.[266] Marcos and his cronies milked major sectors of the economy, extorted business establishments, skimmed from international loans, borrowed from banks without collateral, established phony companies, and siphoned off vital capital funds to overseas donations.[266]

In March 1986, the Philippine Government has identified an $800 million Swiss bank account held by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, which at the time was the largest asset of Mr. Marcos and his wife, Imelda, yet made public.[272] But another commission member, Mary C. Bautista, said the commission actually had information on more than one account held by Mr. Marcos in Switzerland.[272] The commission is seeking to regain five buildings in New York worth an estimated $350 million that it asserts are secretly owned by the Marcoses.

Switzerland's federal tribunal ruled in December 1990 that cash in Swiss banks would only be returned to the Philippine government if a Philippine court convicted her. In December 1997 (Reuters 1997:3), Switzerland’s highest court ordered the Swiss banks to return $500 million of Marcos’ secret accounts to the Philippine government, marking a major step forward in efforts to recover the Marcos’ hidden wealth.[266] That same year, the Philippine Senate, through its Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Franklin Drilon, has revealed the existence of 97 alleged accounts of Ferdinand Marcos in 23 banks in Europe, the United States, and Asia, suspected to be depositories of wealth looted from the Philippine treasury. 13 of the 23 banks mentioned by Drilon are in Switzerland, namely: Swiss Credit Bank, Swiss Bank Corp., Bankers Trust AG, Banque Paribas, Affida Bank, Copla, S.A., Lombard Odier et Cie, Standard Chartered Bank, Swiss Volkabank, Bank Ricklin, Compaigne Banque Et D’ Investissements, Compaigne de Gestion Et De Banque Gonet Sa Nyon, and Bank Hoffman AG.[266]

The Sandiganbayan 5th Division has recently convicted Imelda Marcos of 7 counts of graft for creating and maintaining private foundations in Switzerland, violating the anti-graft law that prohibits public officials from having pecuniary interests in private businesses.[273] As the Sandiganbayan’s decision reads, “Though named as a foundation, the evidence shows that these entities were put up primarily for the entrepreneurial activity of opening bank accounts and deposits, transferring funds, earning interests and even profit from investment, for the private benefit of the Marcos family as beneficiaries”. For example, in the creation of the Maler Foundation, Imelda and Ferdinand created it but appointed Andre Barbey and Jean Louis Suiner as attorneys, administrators, and managers of the foundation. Imelda then conducted business to get investments amounting to at least US$75 million.[273]

Death and burial

The body of Ferdinand Marcos was stored in a refrigerated crypt at the Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center in Batac, Ilocos Norte until 2016.

The body of Ferdinand Marcos was stored in a refrigerated crypt at the Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center in Batac, Ilocos Norte until 2016.

Students of the Ateneo de Manila University along Katipunan Avenue protesting against the burial of Marcos insisting that the former President is not a hero, but a dictator.

Students of the Ateneo de Manila University along Katipunan Avenue protesting against the burial of Marcos insisting that the former President is not a hero, but a dictator.

In his dying days, Marcos was visited by Vice President Salvador Laurel.[274] During the meeting with Laurel, Marcos offered to return 90% of his ill-gotten wealth to the Filipino people in exchange for being buried back in the Philippines beside his mother, an offer also disclosed to Enrique Zobel. However, Marcos's offer was rebuffed by the Aquino government.[275][276][277]

Marcos died in Honolulu on the morning of September 28, 1989, of kidney, heart, and lung ailments. Marcos was interred in a private mausoleum at Byodo-In Temple on the island of Oahu where his remains were visited daily by the Marcos family, political allies and friends.

The Aquino government refused to allow Marcos's body to be brought back to the Philippines. The body was only brought back to the Philippines four years after Marcos's death during the term of President Fidel Ramos.[278]

From 1993 to 2016, his remains were interred inside a refrigerated crypt in Ilocos Norte, where his son, Ferdinand Jr., and eldest daughter, Imee, have since become the local governor and congressional representative, respectively. A large bust of Ferdinand Marcos (inspired by Mount Rushmore) was commissioned by the tourism minister, Jose Aspiras, and carved into a hillside in Benguet. It was subsequently destroyed; suspects included left-wing activists, members of a local tribe who had been displaced by construction of the monument, and looters hunting for the legendary Yamashita treasure.[279]

Opinion on his burial remains split: 50 percent of the 1,800 respondents of a survey conducted by SWS in February 2016 said Marcos "was worthy to be buried at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani" while the other half rejected a hero's burial, calling him a "thief".[280]

On November 18, 2016, the remains of Marcos were buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani despite opposition from various groups. The burial came as unexpected to many, as the Supreme Court's ruling still allowed 15 days for the opposition to file a motion for reconsideration. On the morning of November 18, using Philippine Armed Forces helicopters, his family and their supporters flew his remains from Ilocos to Manila for a private burial.

Various protest groups formed immediately upon hearing the news of the unexpected burial. Among those who gathered to oppose the burial were youth groups and opponents of the burial of Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. The League of Filipino Students described the transfer of Marcos' remains as being done like "a thief in the night." They also criticized the government's involvement in the burial of the former president who they described as a "fascist dictator". The Kabataan Partylist also condemned the burial, labeling it as a "grave travesty" and as "galawang Hokage" in reference to the burial of Marcos being planned and conducted unbeknownst to the public.[281]

Personal life

Immediate family

Richard Nixon with the Marcos family in 1969

Richard Nixon with the Marcos family in 1969

Ferdinand Marcos married Imelda Romualdez on May 1, 1954, and the marriage produced three children:[184]

  1. Maria Imelda Josefa (Imee, born 12 November 1955), Senator of the Philippines

  2. Ferdinand Jr. (BongBong, born 13 September 1957), Senator of the Philippines

  3. Irene (born 16 September 1960)

His fourth child, Aimee Marcos (born 1979), is adopted.[282]


Marcos claimed that he was a descendant of Antonio Luna, a Filipino general during the Philippine–American War.[283] He also claimed that his ancestor was a 16th-century pirate, Lim-A-Hong (Chinese: 林阿鳳), who used to raid the coasts of the South China Sea.[284][285]


Human rights abuses

As many student activists like Edgar Jopson and Rigoberto Tiglao, farmers like Bernabe Buscayno, journalists like Satur Ocampo, legal political opposition (Ninoy Aquino[288] and fellow candidate in 1978 election Alex Boncayao[172]), and priest and nuns joined or developed relationships with the CPP/NDF/NPA,[289] many farmers,[290] student protesters,[291] leftists,[42] political opponents,[292] journalists and members of the media[293][294] accused of being members or sympathizing with the CPP, NPA or MNLF[295] or of plotting against the government were frequent targets of human rights violations. Victims would simply be rounded up with no arrest warrant nor reading of prisoners' rights and kept indefinitely locked up with no charges filed against them.[296] In a keynote speech at the University of the East, journalist Raissa Robles described how anyone could just be arrested (or abducted) with ease through pre-signed Arrest Search and Seizure Orders (ASSO),[297] which allowed the military or police to detain victims on trumped up charges or unclear allegations according to Rappler research.[298] Anybody could be picked up at anytime for any reason by the military or the police, according to Raissa's husband, journalist Alan Robles.[43][299]

A 1976 Amnesty International report had listed 88 government torturers, including members of the Philippine Constabulary and the Philippine Army, which was respectively under the direct control of Major General Fidel V. Ramos and Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile.[24][300] According to torture victim Rigoberto Tiglao, nearly all of the human rights abuses President Marcos has been accused of were undertaken by Philippine Constabulary units, especially through its national network of "Constabulary Security Units," whose heads reported directly to Fidel V. Ramos. The most dreaded of these was the Manila-based 5th Constabulary Security Unit (CSU) which featured the dreaded torturer Lt. Rodolfo Aguinaldo,[25][296] credited with capturing most of the Communist Party leaders including Jose Ma. Sison and the communist's Manila-Rizal Regional Committee he headed,[301] the Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group (MISG)[298] under the command of Col. Rolando Abadilla,[25] and the Intelligence Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).[296]

There are various statistics for human rights abuses committed during the Marcos regime.

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines has recorded:[302]

  • 2,668 incidents of arrests

  • 398 disappearances

  • 1,338 salvagings

  • 128 frustrated salvagings

  • 1,499 killed or wounded in massacres

Amnesty International reports:[303]

  • 70,000 imprisoned

  • 34,000 tortured

  • 3,240 documented as killed

Historian Alfred McCoy gives a figure of 3,257 recorded extrajudicial killings by the military from 1975 to 1985, 35,000 tortured and 70,000 incarcerated.[25][304] The newspaper Bulatlat (lit. "to open carelessly") places the number of victims of arbitrary arrest and detention at 120,000, the extrajudicial execution of activists under martial law at 1,500 and Karapatan (a local human rights group)'s records show 759 involuntarily disappeared with their bodies never found.[305]

In addition to these, up to 10,000 Moro Muslims were killed in massacres by the Philippine Army, Philippine Constabulary, and the Ilaga pro-government paramilitary group.[306]


Victims were often taken to military "safehouses",[307] a euphemism for hidden places of torture,[308] often blindfolded.[296][309] In a document titled "Open Letter to the Filipino People," martial law martyr Edgar "Edjop" Jopson described safehouses as such: "Safehouses usually have their windows always shut tight. They are usually covered with high walls. One would usually detect [safehouses] through the traffic of motorcycles and cars, going in and out of the house at irregular hours. Burly men, armed with pistols tucked in their waists or in clutch bags, usually drive these vehicles."[310]


Various forms of torture were used by the military, and these forms of torture were usually combined with each other.[292]

Psychological and emotional torture

Among the forms of psychological and emotional torture performed were:

  • Solitary confinement.[292] Victims include Ninoy Aquino, Danilo Vizmanos, CPP/NPA Leaders Lt. Victor Corpuz, Bernabe Buscayno, and Jose Maria "Joma" Sison, and World War II Hunter's Guerrilla forces commander Eleuterio "Terry" Adevoso, who was accused of plotting a coup.[296][138]

  • Sleep deprivation.[311][292] Victims include Ninoy Aquino and Maria Elena-Ang.

  • Playing loud, repetitive music.[292] Victims include Ninoy Aquino.

  • Forcing victims to strip naked.[311] Victims include Virgillo Villegas, Maria Elena Ang, Erlene Dangoy, and Monica Atienza.[296]

  • Government units mutilating, cooking and eating the flesh of victims (cannibalism) in front of their family and friends to sow terror.[312]

Physical torture

Physical torture was also often inflicted upon victims. Aside from deadly weapons, implements of torture included water, pliers, thumb tacks, ballpoint pens, and flat irons. Physical torture also took the forms of:

  • Beatings. Almost all who were tortured were subjected to beatings. Victims include Rigoberto Tiglao,[301] Roland Simbulan, Julius Giron, Macario Tiu, Eugenio Magpantay, Joseph Gatus, Rev. Cesar Taguba, Reynaldo Guillermo, Alejandro Arellano, Charley Palma, Victor Quinto, Pedro de Guzman Jr., Reynaldo Rodriguez, Ma. Cristina Verzola, Armando Teng, Romeo Bayle, Agaton Topacio, Reynaldo Ilao, Erlinda Taruc-Co, Ramon Casiple, Winfiredo Hilao,[296] Bernabe Buscayno and Jose Maria Sison.[292][313]

  • Electric Shock (also known as the Meralco Treatment)[296] - where electric wires were attached to fingers, genitalia, arms or the head of the victim, beatings. Victims include Etta Rosales, Charlie Revilla Palma, Wilfredo Hilao, Romeo Tolio, Reynaldo Guillermo, Alejandro Arellano, Victor Quinto, Pedro de Guzman Jr., Reynaldo Rodriguez, Julius giron, Armando Teng, Santiago Alonzo, Romeo Bayle, Agaton Topacio,[292] Neri Colmenares,[314] Trinidad Herrera and Marco Palo.[296]

  • San Juanico Bridge or Air Treatment - Victim lies between two cots. If the victim's body falls or sags, he or she would be beaten. Victims include Jose "Pete" Lacaba and Bonifacio Ilagan.[292][315][296]

  • Truth Serum. Victims include Pete Lacaba, Danilo Vizmanos, Fernando Tayag, Bernardo Escarcha, Julius Giron,[296] and Victor Quinto.[292]

  • Russian Roulette - a revolver with one bullet loaded is spun up, aimed at the head of the victim, and then the trigger pulled. Victims include Etta Rosales, Cesar Taguba, Carlos Centenera,[292] and Winifredo Hilao and Danilo Vizmanos.[296]

  • Pistol-whipping - beating with rifle or pistol butts. Victims include Reynaldo Guillermo, Robert sunga, Joseph Gatus, Maria Elena-Ang and Nathan Quimpo.[292]

  • Water Cure (also known as the Nawasa Treatment)[296] - large amounts of water would be forced through the victim's mouth, then forced out by beating. Victims Include Judy Taguiwalo, Guillermo Ponce de Leon, Alfonso Abzagado, Andrew Ocampo, and Jose Maria Sison.[292][313]

  • Wet Submarine - victims' heads would be submerged in a toilet full of urine and excrement. Victims include Charlie Palma and Wenifredo Villareal.[296]

  • Dry Submarine - victims' heads would be inserted into plastic bags, causing suffocation. Victims include Rolieto Trinidad.[296]

  • Strangulation - Done by hand, electric wire or steel bar. Victims include Etta Rosales, Carlos Centenera, Willie Tatanis, Juan Villegas and Reynaldo Rodriguez.[292]

  • Ashtray - cigarette burns would be inflicted on the victim. Victims include Marcelino Tolam Jr., Philip Limjoco, Charley Palma, Ma. Cristina Verzola, Reynaldo Rodriguez[292] Neri Colmenares,[314] Ernesto Luneta and Peter Villaseñor.[296]

  • Flat Iron burns - feet are burned with flat irons. Victims include Cenon Sembrano and Bonfiacio Ilagan.[315][292]

  • Candle burns. Victims include Etta Rosales[292]

  • Sinusunog na rekado (burning spices) or Pepper Torture - concentrated peppery substance placed on lips, ears and genitals. Victims include Rolieto Trinidad,[296] Meynardo Espeleta.[292] and Carlos Yari.[296]

  • Animal Treatment - victims are manacled and caged like beasts. Victims include Leandro Manalo, Alexander Arevalo, Manuel Daez, Marcelo Gallarin, romualdo Inductivo, Faustino Samonte, Rodolfo Macasalabang. Others like Cesar Taguba was made to drink his own urine and Satur Ocampo was made to eat his own feces.[292]

  • Cold Torture - Forcing victims to sit against air conditioners set on maximum while shirtless, or to sit or lie down on blocks of ice while naked (sometimes with electric wires). Victims include Rolieto Trinidad, Nestor Bugayong, Winifredo Hilao,[296] Pete Villaseñor and Judy Taguiwalo.[292]

  • Food deprivation. Victims include NPA founder Jose Maria Sison[313] and Rev. Cesar Taguba.[296]

  • Pompyang (cymbals) - ear clapping. Victims include Charlie Revilla and Julius Giron.[296]

  • Putting bullets between fingers then squeezing the hands tightly. Victims include Erlene Dangoy.[296]

Sexual torture



Number of "salvage" cases (TFDP)[[CITE|296|https://www.facebook.com/MarcosMartialLawNeverAgain/]][[CITE|318|http://main.tfdp.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=300&Itemid=85]]
YearNo. of cases

Summary executions were prevalent during the Martial Law era with bodies being recovered in various places and often bearing signs of torture and mutilation.[310][319] Such cases were referred to as Salvaging with the term widely believed to have originated from the Spanish word salvaje, meaning savage.[320] Mutilated remains were often dumped on roadsides in public display in order to spread a sense of fear and to intimidate opponents from encouraging actions against the government — turning the Philippines into a theater state of terror.[25]

Anyone could be "salvaged" - Communist rebels, suspects, innocent civilians and priests included. TFDP documented 1,473 "salvage" cases from 1980 to 1984 alone:[296][318]

Victims included Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila student Liliosa Hilao,[321] Archimedes Trajano and Juan Escandor.[296] Also included in the list of summary execution victims was the 16-year-old Luis Manuel "Boyet" Mijares who was tortured brutally with his body found with burn marks, all his nails pulled and removed, 33 ice pick wounds around his body, skull bashed in, eyeballs gouged out, and genitals mutilated before being dropped from a helicopter.[322][323][296]

Enforced disappearances

Enforced disappearances, also known "desaparecidos" or "the disappeared"—people who suddenly went missing, sometimes without a trace and with bodies never recovered.[324]

Victims include Primitivo "Tibo" Mijares,[322] Emmanuel Alvarez, Albert Enriquez, Ma. Leticia Ladlad, Hermon Lagman,[322] Mariano Lopez, Rodelo Manaog, Manuel Ontong, Florencio Pesquesa, Arnulfo Resus, Rosaleo Romano, Carlos Tayag, Emmanuel Yap,[325] Jan Quimpo,[322] Rizalina Ilagan, Christina Catalla, Jessica Sales and Ramon Jasul.[326]

Notable murders

While the numbers of political detainees went down, the number of people killed rose and spiked in 1981, the year Martial Law was officially lifted by Marcos according to Task Force Detainees of the Philippines. According to Senator Jose Diokno, "As torture (cases) declined, a more terrible tactic emerged; unofficial executions"—suspected dissidents were simply arrested and vanished.[296]

Murder victims include:

  • Fr. Zacarias Agatep[292]

  • Senator Ninoy Aquino, August 21, 1983. Assassinated on the tarmac of the Manila International Airport

  • Lorena Barros[292]

  • Wiliam Vincent "Bill" Begg[292]

  • NPA commander Alex Boncayao,[327]

  • Macli-ing Dulag

  • Juan Escandor[292]

  • Fr. Tulio Favali[292]

  • Resteta Fernandez[292]

  • Zoilo Francisco, August 1979. Arrested in Brgy. Doña Anecita, Pambujan, Northern Samar. He was decapitated by elements of the 60th Philippine Constabulary (PC) Battalion, and his stomach slashed open.[296]

  • Liliosa Hilao

  • Antonio "Tonyhil" Hilario[292]

  • Evelio Javier

  • Edgar Jopson

  • Emmanuel "Eman" Lacaba

  • Silver Narciso, Feb. 10, 1979. Arrested by the PC in Bgy. Hitalinga, Artacho, Eastern Samar - interrogated about the presence of NPA rebels, tortured, slashed with a knife, died with 9 wounds and both ears chopped off.[296]

  • Soldedad Salvador[292]

  • Noel Cerrudo Tierra[292]

  • Nilo Valerio[292]

Civilian massacres

It is hard to judge the full extent of massacres and atrocities which happened during the Marcos regime due to a heavily censored press at the time.[328]

Some of the civilian massacres include the following:

  • Guinayangan, Quezon. Feb. 1, 1981 - coconut farmers marched to air their grievances against the coco levy fund scam.[296] The military opened fire on a group of 3000 farmers[296] that neared Guinayangan plaza. Two people died and 27 were wounded.[329]

  • Tudela, Misamis Occidental. Aug. 24, 1981 - A Subanon family, the Gumapons, were asleep in Sitio Gitason, Barrio Lampasan when paramilitary members of the "Rock Christ", a fanatical pseudo-religious sect, strafed their house. 10 of the 12 persons in the house were killed, including an infant.[329]

  • Las Navas, Northern Samar. Sept. 15, 1981 - 18 heavily armed security men of the San Jose Timber Corp. (owned by Juan Ponce Enrile) who were also members of the Special Forces of the Civilian Home Defense Force (CHDF) and allied with the Lost Command (a paramilitary group pursuing insurgents) ordered residents of Barrio Sag-od to come out of their homes. They opened fire, killing 45 men, women and children. Only 13 inhabitants of Barrio Sag-od survived.[296][329]

  • Culasi, Antique. Dec. 19, 1981 - More than 400 of Culasi's mountain barangays held a protest to raise two issues: complaint against a new Philippine Constabulary company in their area and the reduction of taxes on farm products. The protesters were warned, but they pushed on. Soldiers opened fire while they were on the bridge. Five farmers died and several were injured.[329]

  • Talugtug, Nueva Ecija. Jan. 3, 1982 - 5 men in their twenties were rounded up by military elements at around 7pm. The next day, their corpses were found. The military had suspected them to be communist supporters.[329]

  • Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur. Feb. 12, 1982 - Members of the Ilaga killed 12 persons to avenge the death of their leader who was reportedly killed by the NPA.[329]

  • Hinunangan, Southern Leyte. March 23, 1982 - Troopers of the 357th PC company killed 8 people in Masaymon barrio. 6 of the 8 victims were 3–18 years of age.[329]

  • Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur. May 25, 1982 - Airplanes dropped bombs on Barangay Dimalinao as military reprisal against the community because communist rebels killed 23 soldiers two days earlier.[296] Three people died and eight people were injured. Days later, two men from the community were picked up and killed. Months later, the residence of Bayog's Jesuit parish priest was strafed with bullets. He had written letters protesting the torture and harassment of Subanon who were suspected to be supporters of armed communists.[329]

  • Daet, Camarines Norte. June 14, 1982 - People from different barrios marched to denounce "fake elections", Cocofed, and to demand an increase in copra prices. Soldiers opened fire as marchers moved forward. Four people died on the spot, at least 50 were injured, and 2 of the seriously wounded died 2 months later.[329]

  • Pulilan, Bulacan. June 21, 1982 - In a dimly lit house, six peasant organizers were discussing and assessing their work when 25-35 uniformed military men with firearms burst in. While one of them was able to slip away, 5 of the peasants were taken by elements of the 175th PC Company to Pulo in San Rafael town. By midnight, 5 bullet-riddled corpses lay at the municipal hall of San Rafael.[329]

  • Labo, Camarines Norte. June 23, 1982 - Five men were gunned down by soldiers of the 45th Infantry Battalion's Mabilo detachment to avenge the death of a friend of one of the soldiers in the hands of unidentified gunmen.[329]

  • Roxas, Zamboanga del Norte.[329] A week before Fr. Tullio Favali was murdered, 8 members of a family, including a three-year-old child were murdered by soldiers and militia men. All of them were parishioners of Favali. The massacre was never investigated.[296]

  • Gapan, Nueva Ecija.[329] The Bautista family of five were strafed in their house by men in camouflaged uniforms.[296]

  • Escalante, Negros Occidental. September 20, 1985. A crowd of 5000 farmers, students, fisherfolk, religious clergy gathered in front of the plaza of the city hall to protest the 13th anniversary of Martial Law's imposition. It was the second day of a three-day 'Welga ng Bayan'. About 50 firemen, armed soldiers of the Regional Special Action Forces (RSAF) and member of the Civilian Home Defense Force (CHDF) attempted to disperse the crowd. They hosed demonstrators from firetrucks, soldiers used tear gas, and the CHDF opened fire with assault rifles and a machine gun.[296] Between 20[296] to 30 people were killed, and 30 were wounded.[330] This is now known as the Escalante Massacre, or 'Bloody Thursday', even though the massacre happened on a Friday.[330]

Muslim massacres

The Marcos regime had started to kill hundreds of Moros even before the imposition of Martial Law in 1972.[331] Thousands of Moro Muslims were killed during the Marcos regime, prompting them to form insurgent groups and separatist movements such as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which became more radical with time due to atrocities against Muslims.[332] According to the study The Liberation Movements in Mindanao: Root Causes and Prospects for Peace, a doctoral dissertation by Marjanie Salic Macasalong, the number of Moro victims killed by the Army, Philippine Constabulary, and the Ilaga (a notorious government-sanctioned[333] terrorist cult known for cannibalism and land grabbing that served as members of the CHDF)[329] reached as high as 10,000 lives.[306]

Some of the massacres include:

  • The Jabidah Massacre in March 1968 with 11 to 68 Moros killed. This is the aftermath of an aborted operation to destabilize Sabah, Operation Merdeka.

  • From 1970 to 1971, pro-government militias like the Ilaga were behind 21 cases of massacres which left 518 people dead, 184 injured and 243 houses burned down.[334][306]

  • The Tacub Massacre in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, 1971 - five truckloads of displaced resident voters were stopped at a military checkpoint in Tacub. People were asked to line up as if in a firing squad, then they were summarily executed in with open fire from armed men. Dozens of bodies were strewn all over the road of the barangay after the incident.[331]

  • The Manili massacre in June 1971, with 70-79 Moros, including women and children, were killed inside a mosque by suspected Ilaga and Philippine Constabulary[334]

  • The Burning of Jolo, Sulu[328] in February 7–8, 1974, where land, sea and air bombardment by the Armed Forces of the Philippines caused fires and destruction in the central commercial town of Jolo that killed over 1,000 and possibly up to 20,000 civilians.[335] It was described as "the worst single atrocity to be recorded in 16 years of the Mindanao conflict" by the April 1986 issue of the Philippines Dispatch.[336]

  • The Malisbong Massacre in September 1974, where about 1,500 male Moros were killed inside a mosque, 3,000 women and children aged 9–60 were detained, and about 300 women raped by the Philippine Constabulary.[334]

  • The Pata Island massacre in 1982 where 3,000 Tausug civilians, including women and children, were killed by months of Philippine military artillery shelling.[334]

  • The Tong Umapoy Massacre in 1983 where a Navy ship opened fire on a passenger boat en route to an athletic event in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi. 57 people on board were killed.[333]

Family denial

On the stories of human rights abuses during the Marcos administration, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. describes them as "self-serving statements by politicians, self-aggrandizement narratives, pompous declarations, and political posturing and propaganda."[337][338]

Ill-gotten wealth

The Philippine Supreme Court considers all Marcos assets beyond their legally declared earnings/salary to be ill-gotten wealth[339] and such wealth to have been forfeited in favor of the government or human rights victims.[340]

Among the sources of the Marcos wealth are alleged to be diverted foreign economic aid, US Government military aid (including huge discretionary funds at Marcos disposal as a "reward" for sending some Filipino troops to Vietnam) and kickbacks from public works contracts over a 2-decades-long rule.[341]

In 1990 Imelda Marcos, his widow, was acquitted of charges that she raided the Philippine's treasury and invested the money in the United States by a U.S. jury.[342] In 1993, she was convicted of graft in Manila for entering into three unfavorable lease contracts between a Government-run transportation agency and another government-run hospital.[343] In 1998, the Philippine Supreme Court overturned the previous conviction of Imelda Marcos and acquitted her of corruption charges.[344] In 2008, Philippine trial court judge Silvino Pampilo acquitted Imelda Marcos, then widow of Ferdinand Marcos, of 32 counts of illegal money transfer[345] from the 1993 graft conviction.[346] In 2010, she was ordered to repay the Philippine government almost $280,000 for funds taken by Ferdinand Marcos in 1983.[347] In 2012, a US Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit upheld a contempt judgement against Imelda and her son Bongbong Marcos for violating an injunction barring them from dissipating their assets, and awarded $353.6 million to human rights victims.[348] As of October 2015, she still faces 10 criminal charges of graft, along with 25 civil cases,[349][350] down from 900 cases in the 1990s, as most of the cases were dismissed for lack of evidence.[351] According to the [Presidential Commission on Good Government|PCGG] and The Guardian, Ferdinand Marcos had an accumulated stolen wealth of US $5–10 billion during his presidency from 1965 to 1986, while earning an annual salary equivalent to US $13,500.00.[352]

In 2014, Vilma Bautista, the former secretary of Imelda Marcos was sentenced to prison for conspiring to sell a Monet, Sisley and other masterpiece artworks belonging to the Republic of the Philippines for tens of millions of dollars.[353][354]

On May 9, 2016, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released the searchable database from Panama Papers.[355] His two daughters, Imee Marcos Manotoc and Irene Marcos Araneta,[356][357] have been named, along with his grandsons Fernando Manotoc, Matthew Joseph Manotoc, Ferdinand Richard Manotoc, his son-in-law Gregorio Maria Araneta III,[358] including his estranged son-in-law Tommy Manotoc's relatives Ricardo Gabriel Manotoc and Teodoro Kalaw Manotoc.[359]

On September 3, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte said the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos is "ready to return" their stolen wealth to the government, possibly through a settlement.[360] In January 2018, a draft House Bill proposing a compromise settlement and immunity for the Marcoses submitted by the late Ferdinand Marcos's legal counsel Oliver Lozano was revealed on Social Media[361] to have been received by the Duterte government in July 2017.[362]



  • [[INLINE_IMAGE|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/17/PHL_Legion_of_Honor_-Chief_Commander_BAR.png/45px-PHL_Legion_of_Honor-Chief_Commander_BAR.png|//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/17/PHL_Legion_of_Honor-Chief_Commander_BAR.png/68px-PHL_Legion_of_Honor-Chief_Commander_BAR.png 1.5x, //upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/17/PHL_Legion_of_Honor-Chief_Commander_BAR.png/90px-PHL_Legion_of_Honor-_Chief_Commander_BAR.png 2x|PHL Legion of Honor - Chief Commander BAR.png|h12|w45]]: Chief Commander of the Philippine Legion of Honor (September 11, 1972)[363]

  • Man of the Year 1965, Philippine Free Press (January 1, 1966)[364]


  • Gabon: Grand Cross of the Order of the Equatorial Star (July 8, 1976)

  • Indonesia: Star of Indonesia, First Class (January 12, 1968)[365]

  • Japan: Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum (September 20, 1966)[366]

  • Jordan: Grand Collar of the Order of al-Hussein bin Ali (March 1, 1976)[367]

  • Sovereign Military Order of Malta: Grand Cross of the Order pro merito Melitensi[368]

  • Romania: Order of the Star of the Romanian Socialist Republic (April 9, 1975)[369]

  • Singapore: Order of Temasek, First Class (January 15, 1974)

  • Spain: Knight of the Collar of the Order of Isabella the Catholic (December 22, 1969)[370] Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Military Merit- White Decoration (February 18, 1974)[370]

  • Thailand: Knight of the Most Auspicious Order of the Rajamitrabhorn (January 15, 1968) Thammasat University: Honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) honoris causa (January 15, 1968)

Marcos and his wife, Imelda, were jointly credited in 1989 by Guinness World Records with the largest-ever theft from a government: an estimated 5 to 10 billion dollars.[371][372][373][374][375][376]


Infrastructure and monuments

North Luzon Expressway, one of Marcos's infrastructure projects

North Luzon Expressway, one of Marcos's infrastructure projects

Marcos's government built widely publicized infrastructure projects and monuments using foreign currency loans[377] and at great taxpayer cost.[378][379] This focus on infrastructure, which critics saw as a propaganda technique, eventually earned the colloquial label "edifice complex".[378][379][97]

These including hospitals[380] like the Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center, and Kidney Center, transportation infrastructure like San Juanico Bridge (formerly Marcos Bridge), Pan-Philippine Highway, North Luzon Expressway, South Luzon Expressway,[381] and Manila Light Rail Transit (LRT), and 17 hydroelectric[382][383] and geothermal power plants[384][385] to lessen the country's dependency on oil.[386] By 1983, the Philippines became the second largest producer of geothermal power in the world with the commissioning of the Tongonan 1 and Palinpinon 1 geothermal plants.[384][387] According to UP Economics Professor Dr. Sicat, "a study of infrastructure construction by various presidents shows that Marcos was the president who made the largest infrastructure investment. This is not because he was the longest-serving leader of the country alone. On a per-year basis, he led all the presidents. Only Fidel Ramos had bested him in road building for a period of one year".[388] On the education front, 47[389] state colleges and universities were built during the Marcos administration, which represents over 40% of all the existing 112 state colleges and universities[390][391] in the country. To help transform the country's agricultural-based economy to a Newly industrialized country,[392] he spearheaded the development of 11 heavy industrialization projects[393] including steel, petrochemical,[394] cement, pulp and paper mill, and copper smelter.[395] Cultural and heritage sites like the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Nayong Pilipino, Philippine International Convention Center and the disastrous and ill-fated Manila Film Center were built as well.


Likewise, the country crafted a large number of decrees, laws, and edicts during Marcos's term.[396] From 1972 to 1986, the Marcos Administration codified laws through 2,036 Presidential Decrees,[397] an average of 145 per year during the 14-year period. To put this into context, only 14, 12, and 11 laws were passed in 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively.[398] A large amount of the laws passed during the term of Marcos remain in force today and are embedded in the country's legal system.[396]

Marcos, together with agriculture minister and Harvard-educated Arturo Tanco[399] and later on Salvador Escudero Jr., was instrumental in the Green Revolution in the Philippines and initiated an agricultural program called Masagana 99, improving agricultural productivity and enabling the country to achieve rice sufficiency in the late 1970s.[400][401]

Authored works

  • National discipline: the key to our future (1970)[402]

  • Today's Revolution: Democracy (1971)[402]

  • Notes on the New Society of the Philippines (1973)[402]

  • Tadhana: the history of the Filipino People (1977, 1982)[402]

  • The democratic revolution in the Philippines (1977)[402]

  • Five years of the new society (1978)[402]

  • President Ferdinand E. Marcos on law, development and human rights (1978)[402]

  • President Ferdinand E. Marcos on agrarian reform (1979)[402]

  • An Ideology for Filipinos (1980)

  • An introduction to the politics of transition (1980)[402]

  • Marcos's Notes for the Cancun Summit, 1981 (1981)[402]

  • Progress and Martial Law (1981)

  • The New Philippine Republic: A Third World Approach to Democracy (1982)[402]

  • Toward a New Partnership: The Filipino Ideology (1983)[402]

  • A Trilogy on the Transformation of Philippine Society (1988)

Historical contributions

Bust of Ferdinand Marcos before it was destroyed in 2002.

Bust of Ferdinand Marcos before it was destroyed in 2002.

Marcos left a mixed legacy for future generations. On one hand, many laws written by Marcos are still in force and in effect. Out of thousands of proclamations, decrees, and executive orders, only a few were repealed, revoked, modified or amended.[403] On the other hand, his twenty years in power represent the bloodiest in the history of Philippines, with more extra judicial killings of civic people than those that occurred during parallel Latin American dictatorships like Augusto Pinochet's. More importantly, many people who rose to power under Marcos continued to remain in power or even ascended higher after his exile, thus leaving a further imprint on present-day Filipino affairs. One of these was Fidel Ramos, a general promoted by Marcos who supervised many terror killings and tortures, who later switched sides and subsequently fought elections and became president himself.[404]

I often wonder what I will be remembered in history for. Scholar? Military hero? Builder? The new constitution? Reorganization of government? Builder of roads, schools? The green revolution? Uniter of variant and antagonistic elements of our people? He brought light to a dark country? Strong rallying point, or a weak tyrant?— Ferdinand Marcos[405]

Massive foreign loans also enabled Marcos to build more schools, hospitals and infrastructure than all of his predecessors combined,[15] but at great cost. Today, according to Ibon Foundation, Filipino citizens are still bearing the heavy burden of servicing public debts incurred during Marcos's administration, with ongoing interest payments on the loan schedule by the Philippine government estimated to last until 2025–59 years after Marcos assumed office and 39 years after he was kicked out.[406]

Corazon Aquino had an opportunity to default and not pay foreign debt incurred during the Marcos administration. However, due to Finance Secretary Jaime Ongpin's warning[407] on the consequences of a debt default, which includes isolating the country from the international financial community and hampering the economic recovery, Corazon Aquino honored all the debts incurred during the Marcos Administration,[408] contrary to expectations of left-learning organizations like Ibon foundation which advocated for non-payment of debt.[409] Jaime Ongpin, who is a brother of Marcos trade minister Roberto Ongpin, was later dismissed by Cory Aquino and later died in an apparent suicide after "he had been depressed about infighting in Aquino's cabinet and disappointed that the 'People Power' uprising which had toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos had not brought significant change".[410]

In the 2004 Global Transparency Report, Marcos appeared in the list of the World's Most Corrupt Leaders, listed in second place behind Suharto, the former President of Indonesia.[17][411]

The amount of theft perpetrated by Marcos's regime was probably less than that by Suharto on Indonesia, but harmed our country more because the sums stolen by Marcos were sent out of the country, whereas Suharto's loot mostly were invested in Indonesia.— Former Senator Vicente Paterno[412]

According to Jovito Salonga, monopolies in several vital industries were created and placed under the control of Marcos cronies, such as the coconut industries (under Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile), the tobacco industry (under Lucio Tan), the banana industry (under Antonio Floirendo), the sugar industry (under Roberto Benedicto), and manufacturing (under Herminio Disini and Ricardo Silverio). The Marcos and Romualdez families became owners, directly or indirectly, of the nation's largest corporations, such as the Philippine Long Distance Company (PLDC), of which the present name is Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT), Philippine Airlines (PAL), Meralco (an electric company), Fortune Tobacco, numerous newspapers, radio and TV broadcasting companies (such as ABS-CBN), several banks (most notably the Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank; PCIBank of the Lopezes [now BDO after merging with Equitable Bank and after BDO acquired the merged Equitable PCI]), and real estate in New York, California and Hawaii.[413] The Aquino government also accused them of skimming off foreign aid and international assistance.

During the ICIJ's (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) expose of offshore leaks in April 2013, the name of his eldest daughter, Imee Marcos, appeared on the list of wealthy people involved in offshore financial secrecy. It was revealed that she is hiding parts of her father's ill-gotten wealth in tax havens in the British Virgin Islands.[414][415]

Comparisons have also been made between Ferdinand Marcos and Lee Kuan Yew's authoritarian style of governance and Singapore's success,[416] but in his autobiography, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965–2000, Lee relates:

It is a soft, forgiving culture. Only in the Philippines could a leader like Ferdinand Marcos, who pillaged his country for over 20 years, still be considered for a national burial. Insignificant amounts of the loot have been recovered, yet his wife and children were allowed to return and engage in politics.— Lee Kuan Yew[417]

According to Presidential Commission on Good Government, the Marcos family and their cronies looted so much wealth from the Philippines that, to this day, investigators have difficulty determining precisely how many billions of dollars were stolen.[418] The agency claimed that Marcos stole around $5 to $10 billion from the Philippine treasury.[419][420][421][422] Adjusted for inflation, this would be equivalent to about USD11.16 to USD22.3 billion or over 550 billion to 1.1 trillion Philippine pesos in 2017.[423]


In 1995, some 10,000 Filipinos won a U.S. class-action lawsuit filed against the Marcos estate. The claims were filed by victims or their surviving relatives consequent on torture, execution, and disappearances.[424][425]

The Swiss government, initially reluctant to respond to allegations that stolen funds were held in Swiss accounts,[426] has returned $684 million of Marcos's stash.[427][428][429][430]

Corazon Aquino repealed many of the repressive laws that had been enacted during Marcos's dictatorship. She restored the right of access to habeas corpus, repealed anti-labor laws and freed hundreds of political prisoners.[431]

From 1989 to 1996, a series of suits were brought before U.S. courts against Marcos and his daughter Imee, alleging that they bore responsibility for executions, torture, and disappearances. A jury in the Ninth Circuit Court awarded USD2 billion to the plaintiffs and to a class composed of human rights victims and their families.[432] On June 12, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court (in a 7–2 ruling penned by Justice Anthony Kennedy in Republic of the Philippines v. Mariano Pimentel) held that: "The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is reversed, and the case is remanded with instructions to order the District Court to dismiss the interpleader action." The court dismissed the interpleader lawsuit filed to determine the rights of 9,500 Filipino human rights victims (1972–1986) to recover USD35 million, part of a USD2 billion judgment in U.S. courts against the Marcos estate, because the Philippines government is an indispensable party, protected by sovereign immunity. The Philippines government claimed ownership of the funds transferred by Marcos in 1972 to Arelma S.A., which invested the money with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc., in New York.[433][434][435]

In July 2017, the Philippine Court of Appeals rejected the petition seeking to enforce the United States court decision that awarded the $2 billion in compensation to human rights victims during the term of former President Ferdinand Marcos.[436]

See also

  • Conjugal dictatorship

  • Kleptocracy

  • Rolex 12

  • Bantayog ng mga Bayani Center

  • List of Filipinos by net worth

  • List of South East Asian people by net worth

  • List of films about Martial Law in the Philippines


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