Should you vote for Bongbong Marcos? This is a question that many Filipinos sadly cannot answer with conviction (pun intended?). More than 30 years since their ouster, it seems those who didn’t suffer through Martial Law find it easy to buy into the propaganda that it wasn’t that bad—and maybe it was even a golden age for growth.
But it wasn’t. It was really bad.
The Marcoses looted the Philippines so badly that it left us in significant international debt. Most of the infrastructure erected during the Martial Law years were vanity projects funded by international loans, of which a significant portion was stolen and stashed away in Swiss banks.
Philippine officials estimate that as much as $30 billion left the country in the Marcos era, about the amount of the gross national product — this, in a country where unauthorized export of foreign exchange is illegal.
Ferdinand senior was smart. He was so intelligent that he used elaborate codes wrothy of a spy thriller to facilitate his transactions:
When Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos sent the message “Happy Birthday” to Markus Geel in Zurich, it didn’t mean Monsieur Geel was a year older.
That greeting, according to documents served on Marcos here this week by the Philippine government, meant the Marcoses wanted money from their secret trust, the “Sandy Foundation,” set up for them and their children in Vaduz, Liechtenstein.
Whenever Geel got the birthday greeting, he was to contact Ralph Klein, his representative in Hong Kong, the documents indicate. Then Klein was to travel to Manila to meet with the Marcoses and handle the matter.
His wits also led him to believe that he had the power to seize public companies, as justified by his own decrees as he established Martial Law. He took Philippine Airlines from its owner and passed it on to his ring of cronies, just like many other Filipino companies that weren’t too friendly with the Marcoses.
The government of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos has taken over the national airline – without paying a cent so far to its former owners-after getting a $3 million bill for flights by Marcos’ wife, government and business sources say.
The story of how Marcos seized Philippine Air Lines, with annual revenues or about $150 million, from Philippine entrepreneur Benigno Toda Jr. goes to the heart of Marcos’ success as one of Asia’s most powerful leaders and an influential figure in the development of U.S. strategic and economic interests in this part of the world.
Justifying each deal in terms of national development, he has transferred to his government or to his friends the country’s more crucial economic power centers-electric utilities, news media, transportation, banking and now Toda’s airline. All the takeovers have displayed Marcos’ skill at using the unspoken threat of his martial law power. rather than his actual military weight.
You may think that most cited stories are just partisan concoctions of those with interests against the Marcoses, but careful research will show that they were written more than twenty years ago, by non-Filipino journalists. What have they got to gain?
The Marcos couple was even indicted in the US, with Imelda Marcos also found guilty and convicted for corruption here in the Philippines in 1993.
The linked articles I’ve shared here do not comprise every reason we have against the Marcoses. I’m sure others have shared better commentary and cited more facts. We haven’t even gotten to the suffering and lives lost during Martial Law.
But I just know I’m not voting for any Marcos and their historical revisionism. I will not vote Bongbong Marcos.
Linked articles from the Washington Post: