Booty and the Beast

Wed, 03/08/2000 - 00:00
woebegone Ferdie and Meldy wander Honolulu's streets

Woebegone Ferdinand and Imelda (with bodyguard) in Honolulu, 1986

by Alan Robles

When Marcos fled the Philippines in 1986, he tried to bring as much of it with him as he could

Frequent travelers can pick up a few tips from the Marcoses: given very short notice of a sudden departure, they were able to pack and bring along 300 crates of loot to Hawaii. Of course, not every frequent traveler gets to be ferried on Air Force cargo planes courtesy of the US government.

Unfortunately for the Marcoses somebody forgot to tell them that there would be a Customs inspection at Hawaii. US officials soon got at the plane truth and very quickly the boodle which Ferdy and Meldy had brought along was no longer hidden wealth -- it was all very visible.

Among the things the inspectors found were 408 pieces of jewelry, valued at about $10 million. They included a bracelet and earring appraised at $1.5 million. An inventory of the 300 crates included:

  • 22 boxes of pesos valued (then) at $1.4 million
  • a gold crown studded with diamonds
  • three tiaras
  • an emerald brooch
  • 60 pearl necklaces -- enough pearls to cover an area 12 feet by four feet
  • a heavily bejeweled ivory statue
  • 65 gold watches
  • 35 jewel-studded rings
  • several gold bars
  • 1,500 documents and ledgers, constituting what Stephen Solarz called "an encyclopedia of corruption." Among the papers:
    • Secret Presidential Decree 731, dated June 7, 1975, where Marcos designates Imelda his successor should anything happen to him
    • A November 1981 memo from Marcos to the head of the Philippine National Bank ordering him to transfer P20 million to "Philippine intelligence fund account no. 2 established for confidential intelligence purposes."
    • A list of expenses paid from that intelligence account in 1981, including $200,000 for "official visit of the First Lady to Iraq" and $252,000 for "various expenses incurred in connection with the official trip of the President to Cancun, Mexico". According to Solarz, Imelda used the "Philippine intelligence budget as the equivalent of an American Express card"
    • A one-page memo outlining "total interest, 1974 and 1975 only", listing $30 million in two Swiss banks, one Paris bank and another in Grand Cayman
    • A one-page list of "accounting of commissions received from Westinghouse", which totals $11.2 million between 1976 and 1982
    • A listing of precious gems on stationery of Olemir Trading Co., new York, detailing various gems and their prices, with the reminder that "pieces can be returned if price for you is too high"
    • Documents detailing deposit certificates and bearer bonds worth $4 million, most of which were bought in the two days before the Marcoses fled
    • Stock transfer deeds, bank documents, financial information about five Philippine hotels and "payments made directly to Mr. and Mrs. Marcos for disaster relief projects"
    • A printout, dated 1982, purporting to detail payments to US political campaigns, including those of Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter in 1980.

Perhaps if the Marcoses had had a bit more time -- and a cargo ship -- they could have brought along what they left in Malacañang Palace: 2,142 pieces of jewelry, 508 gowns, 427 dresses, 71 pairs of sunglasses and those by now immortal shoes of Imelda, 1,060 pairs of them. There were also 75 filing cabinets of documents and three paper shredders that had broken down from overuse.

It turned out that Ferdinand Marcos was a forgetful traveler because among the documents left behind were details of kickbacks and commissions (plus receipts for thousands of dollars of flowers bought by Imelda), and a "declaration of trust" that strongly bolstered the Philippine government's corruption case against the dictator. So let that be a lesson: when you pack for a sudden trip, always have a checklist.

 

Comments

Submitted by Beth Ignacio (not verified) on
Is he who the old people say great president?! The greatest among the corrupt! His first lady too! Watta!

Submitted by spiro vestal (not verified) on
Sadly, Ferdinand's wife and children and granchildren and cronies continue to enjoy and feast Marcos'stolen treasures. Many were never punished , many hold highgovernment positions ...

Submitted by reynaldo j. cas... (not verified) on
TANONG PO: BAKIT DITO SA ATIN, PINAPATAKAS ANG TAKSIL SA BAYAN? AT KUNG DI MAN PATAKASIN, AY IBINUBUHOS ANG LAHAT NG KARAPATAN PARA SA KANYANG KALAMANGAN?

Submitted by reynaldo j. cas... (not verified) on
TANONG PO: BAKIT DITO SA ATIN, PINAPATAKAS ANG TAKSIL SA BAYAN? AT KUNG DI MAN PATAKASIN, AY IBINUBUHOS ANG LAHAT NG KARAPATAN PARA SA KANYANG KALAMANGAN?

Submitted by ROZIE (not verified) on
Where are these documents? Why can't you even win one case against the Marcoses if these are true? No one has gone to jail so far, WHY?

Submitted by alan on
1. Ask the PCGG 2. Ask US Customs 3. Ask the US Air Force 4. Am I going to do your work for you? No 5. Are you a loyalist craphead? Yes 6. The Marcoses have been forced to surrender entire buildings, artwork and stolen loot - so far the government has recovered at least US$1 billion, the latest amount being the one from Singapore. No case you say? Tanga

Submitted by maximo p fabell... (not verified) on
Years from now on, shall he remembered for the asssination,the hamletting, torture of progressives?

Submitted by This is Stupid (not verified) on
I'm super stupid. This is very old tale and as matter they already won the case against my pissy English cuz I'm a drunken loyalist and ugly too. Yeah!

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