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Reflections

“How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms, by truth when it is attacked by lies, by faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always, in the final act, by determination and faith.”

― Archibald MacLeish

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

EDSA People Power @ 30: Bongbong and Imelda MARCOS "Nakaw na Yaman, Ibalik Sa Bayan!

Bongbong and Imelda MARCOS
"Nakaw na Yaman, Ibalik Sa Bayan!
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned 
to repeat it" George Santayana
"My father was always one to comment on current events and history, and the conversations I had with him cumulatively over the years gave me a more complete, if not complex, picture of the context in which martial law was declared." Bongbong Marcos
Head of Government: Ferdinand Marcos
Country/Term of Office: President of Philippines, 1972-86 
Allegedly Embezzled: $5 billion to $10 billion
GDP Per Capita: $912
Source: Transparency International, Global Corruption Report 2004
"When former US VP Mondale asked of Phillipine’s Ferdinand Marcos: “You know Marcos.  Was he a hero or a crook …”? he writes:  “… 
I answered that he might have started as a hero but ended up as a crook.” 
From Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s book “From Third World to First”
"More than life, I value vindication. When you are at peace with the truth and you know that you are on the side of the right and God is on your side, you are not afraid of anything, including jail." --Imelda Marcos quoted in Today, April 1998
(The following excerpt is taken from pages 299 – 305 from former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s book “From Third World to First”, Chapter 18  “Building Ties with Thailand, the Philippines, and Brunei”)
The Philippines was a world apart from us, running a different style of politics and government under an American military umbrella. It was not until January 1974 that I visited President Marcos in Manila. When my Singapore Airlines plane flew into Philippine airspace, a small squadron of Philippine Air Force jet fighters escorted it to Manila Airport. There Marcos received me in great style – the Filipino way. I was put up at the guest wing of Malacañang Palace in lavishly furnished rooms, valuable objects of art bought in Europe strewn all over. Our hosts were gracious, extravagant in hospitality, flamboyant. Over a thousand miles of water separated us. There was no friction and little trade. We played golf, talked about the future of ASEAN, and promised to keep in touch.
In Bali in 1976, at the first ASEAN summit held after the fall of Saigon, I found Marcos keen to push for greater economic cooperation in ASEAN. But we could not go faster than the others. To set the pace, Marcos and I agreed to implement a bilateral Philippines-Singapore across-the-board 10 percent reduction of existing tariffs on all products and to promote intra-ASEAN trade. We also agreed to lay a Philippines-Singapore submarine cable. I was to discover that for him, the communiqué was the accomplishment itself; its implementation was secondary, an extra to be discussed at another conference.
We met every two to three years. He once took me on a tour of his library at Malacañang, its shelves filled with bound volumes of newspapers reporting his activities over the years since he first stood for elections. There were encyclopedia-size volumes on the history and culture of the Philippines with his name as the author. His campaign medals as an anti-Japanese guerrilla leader were displayed in glass cupboards. He was the undisputed boss of all Filipinos. Imelda, his wife, had a penchant for luxury and opulence. When they visited Singapore before the Bali summit they came in stye in two DC8’s, his and hers.
Marcos, ruling under martial law, had detained opposition leader Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino, reputed to be as charismatic and powerful a campaigner as he was. He freed Aquino and allowed him to go to the United States. As the economic situation in the Philippines deteriorated, Aquino announced his decision to return. Mrs. Marcos issued several veiled warnings. When the plane arrived at Manila Airport from Taipei in August 1983, he was shot as he descended from the aircraft. A whole posse of foreign correspondents with television camera crews accompanying him on the aircraft was not enough protection.
International outrage over the killing resulted in foreign banks stopping all loans to the Philippines, which owed over US$25 billion and could not pay the interest due. This brought Marcos to the crunch. He sent his minister for trade and industry, Bobby Ongpin, to ask me for a loan of US$300-500 million to meet the interest payments. I looked him straight in the eye and said, “We will never see that money back.” Moreover, I added, everyone knew that Marcos was seriously ill and under constant medication for a wasting disease. What was needed was a strong, healthy leader, not more loans.
Shortly afterward, in February 1984, Marcos met me in Brunei at the sultanate’s independence celebrations. He had undergone a dramatic physical change. Although less puffy than he had appeared on television, his complexion was dark as if he had been out in the sun. He was breathing hard as he spoke, his voice was soft, eyes bleary, and hair thinning. He looked most unhealthy. An ambulance with all the necessary equipment and a team of Filipino doctors were on standby outside his guest bungalow. Marcos spent much of the time giving me a most improbable story of how Aquino had been shot.
As soon as all our aides left, I went straight to the point, that no bank was going to lend him any money. They wanted to know who was going to succeed him if anything were to happen to him; all the bankers could see that he no longer looked healthy. Singapore banks had lent US$8 billion of the US$25 billion owing. The hard fact was they were not likely to get repayment for some 20 years. He countered that it would be only eight years. I said the bankers wanted to see a strong leader in the Philippines who could restore stability, and the Americans hoped the election in May would throw up someone who could be such a leader. I asked whom he would nominate for the election. He said Prime Minister Cesar Virata. I was blunt. Virata was a nonstarter, a first-class administrator but no political leader; further, his most politically astute colleague, defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile, was out of favour. Marcos was silent, then he admitted that succession was the nub of the problem. If he could find a successor, there would be a solution. As I left, he said, “You are a true friend.” I did not understand him. It was a strange meeting.
"And when the people reach that height, God will provide a weapon, the idols will be shattered, tyranny will crumble like a house of cards, and liberty will shine out like the first dawn.” 
― José Rizal
"The denouement came in February 1986 when Marcos held presidential elections which he claimed he won. Cory Aquino, the opposition candidate, disputed this and launched a civil disobedience campaign. Defense Minister Juan Enrile defected and admitted election fraud had taken place, and the head of the Philippine constabulary, Lieutenant General Fidel Ramos, joined him. A massive show of “people power” in the streets of Manila led to a spectacular overthrow of a dictatorship. The final indignity was on 25 February 1986, when Marcos and his wife fled in U.S. Air Force helicopters from Malacañang Palace to Clark Air Base and were flown to Hawaii. This Hollywood-style melodrama could only have happened in the Philippines." From Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s book “From Third World to First”
From NYT
An enormous leak of confidential financial records has revealed the identities of thousands of wealthy depositors — including European officials and corporate executives, Asian dictators and their children, and even American doctors and dentists — who have stashed immense amounts of money in offshore tax havens.
The leak of records, mainly from the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and Singapore, covers 2.5 million files that disclose proprietary information about more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts and nearly 130,000 individuals and agents, including the wealthiest people in more than 170 countries.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a network of reporters that obtained the secret records, collaborated with The Guardian, Asahi Shimbun, Le Monde, The Washington Post and more than 40 other news organizations to untangle and report their contents.
From ICIJ
Records show late dictator's oldest child, now a Philippine provincial governor, didn't disclose British Virgin Islands trust in asset declarations required for public officials.
Newly uncovered documents link Maria Imelda Marcos Manotoc, the eldest child of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos and now a senior political figure in her own right, to two secretive offshore trusts and an offshore company.
The hardworking and popular provincial governor — widely known as Imee Marcos — was one of the beneficiaries of the Sintra Trust, which was formed in June 2002 in the British Virgin Islands, financial records uncovered by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) show.  Other beneficiaries were Imee Marcos’ adult sons with estranged husband Tomas Manotoc: Ferdinand Richard Michael Marcos Manotoc, Matthew Joseph Marcos Manotoc, and Fernando Martin Marcos Manotoc.
It’s unclear whether the trust remains active. The records obtained by ICIJ show the trust was still active at least as recently as 2010.
The documents show that Imee Marcos was also a financial advisor for the Sintra Trust as well as for a company in which the Sintra Trust was a shareholder, ComCentre Corporation, which was formed in January 2002 in the BVI and is still in operation. The records also show she was a “master client” for the M Trust, formed July 1997 in Labuan, Malaysia, and closed July 2009. Philippines law requires government officials to disclose their assets no matter where they’re held, and Imee Marcos’s disclosure statements do not list the three offshore entities. It is not known what assets they hold, but one Sintra Trust document refers to a bank account with United Overseas Bank Limited, a financial institution headquartered in Singapore. Another record related to ComCentre refers to an account at HSBC.
The Philippines’ Presidential Commission on Good Government is eager to find out if the entities connected to Imee Marcos might contain some of the estimated $5 billion that her father allegedly amassed through corruption. He too held offshore accounts, which the Philippine government has sought to freeze.
Ferdinand Marcos fled the Philippines with his family and their close associates when a revolution toppled his 21-year rule in February 1986. He had been accused of large-scale human rights violations as well as widespread corruption.