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In the bloody lap of luxury


Just how much did the Marcoses steal from the Philippines?

With less than a month left before the controversial burial of former president and dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Cemetery of Heroes) on Sept. 18, the country understandably remains divided whether he deserves to rest in peace in the presence of actual heroes.

And I thought we’ve settled this 30 years ago in EDSA.

Just in case you need a refresher, here are the simple numbers based on a 2012 published study by historian and professor Michael Charleston Chua entitled “TORTYUR: Human Rights Violations During The Marcos Regime.”

2,668 incidents of arrests
306 total number of arrested individuals
398 disappearances
1,338 executions
128 frustrated executions
1,499 killed or wounded in massacres

Aside from being responsible for the death, torture, and disappearance of thousands of people during his regime, Marcos and his family also siphoned billions of dollars from the Philippines for 21 years – from being elected in 1965 until the day he was overthrown through the People Power Revolution of 1986.

Thirty years on, question remains: How much did the Marcoses actually plunder from the Philippines?

Here are just some of the numbers according to the World Bank-UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s Stolen Asset Recovery (UNODC- StAR) Initiative.


According to the estimate given by the Supreme Court of the Philippines, the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth amounts to roughly US$10 billion. That’s about PhP462,395,000,000 today.

On average, that means they misappropriated– in one way or another – nearly US$477 million every year for 21 years.

The Guardian wrote in a May 2016 article about the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth, all Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos “had to do was turn on the taps anywhere in the world and cash would come pouring out; cash that had been washed clean of its connection to crime.”

No mortal can spend all that money in their lifetime, so concerned organizations and groups are still demanding the Marcoses to return the money to the state.


As of the latest report from the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) dated 2013, PhP166.2 billion has been returned to the Philippines’ national treasury.

That leaves us with more than PhP296 billion to go after.


Your name doesn’t become an adjective that means “ostentatiously extravagant, sometimes to the point of vulgarity,” just for kicks. For lack of a more fitting word, “Imeldific” is indeed the correct word to describe the former First Lady’s notorious shopping sprees.

According to a 2013 article on New York Magazine, Imelda made history when she went on a US$7-million spending spree in 1983 in New York, Rome, and Copehagen.

Maureen O’Connor of New York Magazine wrote, “[Imelda] spent US$7 million in 90 days. In a single day in New York, she spent US$3 million. Her New York loot included US$2 million in fine jewelry and US$35,000 on limousines. In Rome, she purchased a US$3.5 million Michelangelo painting. Her travel expenses were also extravagant; she once spent US$2,000 in chewing gum during a stop at SFO. An airplane departing Rome was required to do a mid-air U-turn because Imelda realized she’d forgotten to purchase cheese.”

An archived receipt from Bulgari in New York, showed that Imelda bought various pieces of jewelry worth US$1.431 million (more than PhP66.2 million today) in a single transaction.


At least US$5 million dollars. That’s the value of the incredibly rare 25-carat pink diamond included in Imelda’s 300-piece jewelry collection. The collection has been stowed in the vaults of the Central Bank of the Philippines for about three decades, but was recently shown to the public. The pieces will be auctioned off.

According to a CNN report, the entire collection is worth about US$21,000,000 (PhP971,407,500 today).


In 1991, 72 boxes of antique silverware and masters paintings were seized from their properties and auctioned off in New York. The total sales came up to US$13,302,604.86 (PhP615,292,035.74 today).

Authorities are still hunting down at least 200 paintings that include works by Picasso, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh.

In 2014, 15 paintings were sequestered from Imelda’s home in San Juan City. Eleven of which were works by renowned French impressionist Paule Gobillard and have an estimated value of at least US$1 million (PhP46,253,500 today).


In 1981, five years before they were ousted from the Malacañan Palace, the Marcoses bought the Crown Building in the prime spot of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in New York City, one of the most expensive retail and residential spots in the city.

It was auctioned off for US$93.6 million (PhP4,329,327,600 today).


In pesos, that’s just the amount for two of the Marcoses’ auctioned properties in the Philippines. Their 3,900-square meter Baguio City property was auctioned off in 2012 for PhP93 million, while the 4,038-square meter “Mapalad Property” in Pasay City was auctioned for PhP247.11 million.

The proceeds were turned over to the Bureau of Treasury.


The Marcoses’ had an 18.5-hectare Pasig City property valued at PhP16.5 billion. The property was surrendered by Marcos crony Jose Y. Campos in 1986 in exchange for immunity.


According to the UNODC-StAR website, a total of US$683,000,000 (PhP31,595,238,500 today) has been turned over to the Philippine treasury in 2004. These were from Marcos’ frozen assets (including interest) from his Swiss accounts.

Despite knowing these details, the country is still not done fighting for justice and history.

Instead of healing the wounds of Martial Law, the Marcos burial on Sept. 18 will be salt on these wounds – the stripes and lashes from a lying, thieving dictator whose lies are perpetuated by his family who continues to revel in the bloody lap of luxury.


USD-PHP conversions as of Aug. 16, 2016