POSTSCRIPT / September 7, 2017 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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If wealth is legit, why return it?

IF the fabulous wealth of the Marcoses were legitimately acquired and not stolen from the Philippine treasury, there would be no need for them to negotiate with the government about immunity in exchange for returning part of it.

That is one of many sensitive points being raised after their friend President Rodrigo Duterte revealed secret negotiations between Malacañang and the Marcoses for their returning part of their questioned wealth in exchange for protection.

How massive is the Marcos fortune and where is it hidden? It must really be that mind-boggling since Mrs. Imelda Marcos once said it was more than enough to revitalize the country and lift Filipinos from poverty in two years!

Not a progeny of the old rich, Marcos made his first million as a first-term congressman in 1949 and 1950 reportedly by working out import licenses. The gentleman from Ilocos Norte was said to have bought himself a Cadillac to celebrate his new status.

One story goes that when Marcos courted Imelda in 1954, he took her to a bank and showed her stacks of hundred-dollar bills in a vault — but no gold bars. He did not open his first bank account abroad until 1967.

In May 1979, the couple celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in a party that spies said must have cost $5 million. The grand setting that included a silver carriage drawn by eight white horses hinted of their having crashed into the circle of the rich and famous.

Ostensibly to explain things, the Marcoses started in 1988 embellishing their life story with tales of his having dug up the fabled Yamashita treasure, on top of his accumulating precious metals by lawyering for mining companies.

By the time Marcos died on Sept. 28, 1989, in Hawaii, he was one of the world’s ruling billionaires, fulfilling prescient entries in his diary of ultimately making his mark as the world’s greatest thief (Guinness Book of Records) and grabbing the largest monetary award in history.

How did they amass and hide all that wealth scattered around the globe?

• A chronology – lest we forget

HER ARE relevant items culled from a chronology researched by anti-Marcos activist Charlie Avila — with the kicker “Lest We Forget” — in The ProPinoy Project website:

Sept. 1976 — This month, the Marcoses bought their first property in the US – a condo in the exclusive Olympic Towers on Fifth Avenue in New York. Five months later, they bought the three adjoining apartments, paying a total of $4 million for them, with a crony from Davao fronting for them.

Oct. 13, 1977 — Today, after addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Imelda went shopping. She spent $384,000 — including $50,000 for a platinum bracelet with rubies, $50,000 for a diamond bracelet, and $58,000 for a pin set with diamonds.

The day before, her private secretary paid $18,500 for a gold pendant with diamonds and emeralds, $9,450 for a gold ring with diamonds and emeralds, and $4,800 for a gold and diamond necklace.

Oct. 27, 1977 — The Marcoses donated $1.5 million to Tufts University in Boston, endowing a professorial chair in East Asian and Pacific Studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Students and professors found out and forced the school to reject the donation.

Nov. 2, 1977 – Still on a shopping spree, Imelda paid $450,000 for a gold necklace and bracelet with emeralds, rubies, and diamonds, $300,000 for a gold ring with emeralds and diamonds, and $300,000 for a gold pendant with diamonds, rubies, and 39 emeralds.

July 1978 — After a trip to Russia, Imelda arrived in New York and immediately went shopping. She spent $193,320 for antiques — including $12,000 for a Ming Period side table, $24,000 for a pair of Georgian mahogany Gainsborough armchairs, $6,240 for a Sheraton double-sided writing desk, $11,600 for a George II wood side table with marble top – all in the name of the Philippine consulate to dodge New York sales tax.

A week later, she spent $2,181,000 in one day – including $1,150,000 for a platinum and emerald bracelet with diamonds from Bulgari, $330,000 for a necklace with a ruby, diamonds, and emeralds, $300,000 for a ring with heart-shaped emeralds, $78,000 for 18-carat gold ear clips with diamonds, $300,000 for a pendant with canary diamonds, rubies and emeralds on a gold chain.

From New York, she dropped by Hong Kong, where a Cartier representative admitted it was this Filipina, Imelda, who had put together the world’s largest collection of gems.

Nov. 23, 1978 — A house was bought at 4 Capshire Drive in Cherry Hill, New Jersey (actually near Philadelphia where Bongbong was taking courses at that time) for use by servants and Bongbong’s security detachment.

This year and the next, they purchased two more properties – one at 3850 Princeton Pike, Princeton, a 13-acre estate for use by daughter Imee as she attended Princeton. The other was a house at 19 Pendleton Drive in Cherry Hill for use of Bongbong and under the name of Tristan Beplat, erstwhile head of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines.

READ MORE: My limited space is not enough to accommodate Charlie Avila’s chronology which has suddenly become timely with the likely grant of immunity to the Marcoses without any one of them being held to account for their excesses. Those who want to pursue the topic can go to:

(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 7, 2017)

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