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Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos (September 11, 1917 – September 28, 1989) was President of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. He was a lawyer, member of the Philippine House of Representatives (1949-1959) and a member of the Philippine Senate (1959-1965). He was Senate President in 1963. He claimed that during World War II he had been the leader of Ang Maharlika, a guerrilla force in northern Luzonmarker. As Philippine president and strongman, his greatest achievement was in the fields of infrastructure development and international diplomacy. However, his administration was marred by massive authoritarian corruption, despotism, nepotism, political repression, and human rights violations. He benefited from a large personality cult in the Philippines during his regime. In 1983, his government was implicated in the assassination of his primary political opponent, Benigno Aquino, Jr.. The implication caused a chain of events, including a tainted presidential election that served as the catalyst for the People Power Revolution in February 1986 that led to his removal from power and eventual exile in Hawaii. It was later alleged that he and his wife Imelda Marcos had moved billions of dollars of embezzled public funds to the United States, Switzerland, and other countries, as well as into fictitious corporations during his 20 years in power.

Early life and career

Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos was born September 11, 1917, in Sarratmarker, Ilocos Nortemarker outside Laoag Citymarker to parents Mariano Marcos and Josefa Edralin. He was named after Ferdinand VII of Spain and baptized into the Philippine Independent Church. According to the Marcos family's oral history, the family name was originally Taguktok, and their Ilokano roots have some Japanese and Chinese ancestry. Ferdinand was a champion debater at the University of the Philippines, where he also participated in boxing, swimming and wrestling.

In December 1938, Mariano Marcos, his brother Pio, his son Ferdinand, and his brother-in-law Quirino Lizardo were prosecuted for the murder of Julio Nalundasan. On September 20, 1935, the day after Nalundasan for the second time defeated Mariano Marcos for the National Assembly seat for Ilocos Norte, Nalundasan had been shot and killed in his house in Batacmarker. According to two witnesses, the four had conspired to assassinate Nalundasan, with Ferdinand Marcos eventually doing the killing. Late January 1939 they were denied bail, and in the fall of 1939 they were convicted, Ferdinand and Lizardo receiving the death penalty for premeditated murder, while Mariano and Pio were found guilty only of contempt of court. The Marcos family took their appeal to the Supreme Court of the Philippines, which on October 22, 1940, overturned the lower court's decision and acquitted them of all charges but contempt.

In 1939, while incarcerated, Ferdinand Marcos graduated cum laude with a law degree from the U.P. College of Law and was elected to the Pi Gamma Mu international honor society. While in detention, Marcos reportedly studied for and passed the bar examination with one of the highest scores in history, while also writing an 800-page defense.

Military service

When the Second World War reached the Philippines in December 1941, Marcos was called to arms in defense of the Philippines against the Japanese as a combat intelligence officer (though no such military specialty exists) of the 21st Infantry division. He fought in the three-month Battle of Bataan in 1942 and was one of the victims of the Bataan Death March, a Japanese war crime in which thousands of prisoners of war were forcibly transported after their defeat. He was released later . Though he was captured once more and incarcerated at Fort Santiagomarker, he escaped and joined the guerrilla movements against the Japanese . He claimed to have been one of the guerrilla leaders in Luzonmarker and further said his greatest exploit was the Battle of Bessang Pass between the Japanese and the combined Filipino and American troops. The veracity of his claims were widely questioned; however, photos taken after the war show Marcos with decorations on his chest: a Distinguished Service Cross, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Subsequent claims to other awards proved to be a point of contention among historians.

Early political career

Marcos became senator after serving as member of the House of Representatives for three terms. In the Senate he served as minority floor leader before gaining the Senate presidency. He established a record for having introduced a number of significant bills, many of which found their way into the republic's statute books.

Personal life

He was married to Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, with four children: Maria Imelda "Imee" Marcos, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr., Irene Marcos, and Aimee Marcos, who was adopted.


Administration and Cabinet

The cabinet appointments of President Marcos can be divided into three periods: his first two constitutional terms (1965-1973), the New Society appointments from 1973-1978, and the change from departments to ministries from 1978 to the end of his government.

Office Name Term
President Ferdinand Marcos 1965–1973
Vice-President Fernando Lopez 1965–1973
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Carlos P. Romulo
Secretary of Finance Eduardo Romualdez
Secretary of Justice Juan Ponce Enrile
Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources Fernando Lopez
Secretary of Public Works and Communications Manuel Syquio (acting)
Secretary of Education Onofre Corpuz
Secretary of Labor Blas Ople
Secretary of National Defense Ernesto Mata
Secretary of Health Amadeo Cruz
Secretary of Commerce and Industry Leonides Virata
Executive Secretary Rafael M. Salas
Secretary of General Services Salih Ututalum
Secretary of Social Welfare Gregorio Feliciano
Administrator of the Office of Economic Coordination Constancio Castañeda
Press Secretary Francisco Tatad
Chairman of the National Economic Council Marcelo Balatbat
Commissioner of the Budget Ernesto Mata
Commissioner on National Integration Mama Sinsuat
President, Presidential Arm on Community Development Ernesto Maceda
Governor, Land Authority Conrado Estrella
Presidential Anti-Crime Coordinator Alejo Santos
Director-General, Presidential Economic Staff Placido Mapa, Jr.
Chairman, Board of Investments Cesar Virata
Presidential Assistant on National Minorities Manuel Elizalde, Jr.
Commissioner of Civil Service Abelardo Subido

First term (1965-1969)

To rally the people, he vowed to fulfill the nation’s “mandate for greatness:”

This nation can be great again.
This I have said over and over.
It is my articles of faith, and Divine Providence has willed that you and I can now translate this faith into deeds.

In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Marcos revealed his plans for economic development and good government. President Marcos wanted the immediate construction of roads, bridges and public works, which included 16,000 kilometers of feeder roads, some 30,000 lineal meters of permanent bridges, a generator with an electric power capacity of one million kilowatts (1,000,000 kW), and water services to eight regions and 38 localities.

He also urged the revitalization of the judiciary, the national defense posture and the fight against smuggling, criminality, and graft and corruption in the government.

To accomplish his goals “President Marcos mobilized the manpower and resources of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for action to complement civilian agencies in such activities as infrastructure construction; economic planning and program execution; regional and industrial site planning and development; community development and others.” The President, likewise, hired technocrats and highly educated persons to form part of the cabinet and staff. The employment of technocrats in key positions and the mobilization of the AFP for civic actions resulted in the increasing functional integration of civilian and military elites.It was during his first term that the North Diversion Road (now, North Luzon Expressway) was constructed with the help of the AFP engineering construction battalion.

Vietnam War

From October 1965, when the administration of president Marcos was founded (during the Vietnam War), over 10,450 Filipino soldiers were sent to South Vietnam under the designation of PHLCAAG or Philippines Civil Affairs Assistance Group.

Second term (1969-1972)

In 1969, President Marcos was reelected for an unprecedented second term because of his impressive performance. It is generally known that Marcos had the most infrastructure and constitutional accomplishments, which were equivalent to those of all former presidents of the Philippines. During his second term he developed a personality cult in the Philippines surrounding him, requiring businesses and schools all across the Philippines to have his official presidential picture or their facilities shut down. In addition, Marcos's propaganda messages were placed all across the Philippines, many of them taking the place of billboard advertisements. The personality cult lasted until his deposition in 1986.

The second term proved to be a daunting challenge to the president: an economic crisis brought by external and internal forces, a restive and radicalized studentry demanding reforms in the educational system, a rising tide of criminality, subversion by the re-organized Communist movement, and secession in the south.

Economic situation - Critics claimed that overspending in the 1969 elections led to higher inflation and the devaluation of the Philippine peso but the assertion was never verified. Media also discounted the fact that Marcos had already accumulated a lot of wealth prior to his entering politics and had invested in precious metals prior to running for office. In addition, the Philippine economy suffered from the effects of the Cold War, as there was an increased uprising of the "leftist" movement that created widespread chaos throughout the provinces. Further, the decision of the oil-producing Arab countries to cut back oil production, in response to Western military aid to Israel in the Arab-Israeli conflict, resulted in higher fuel prices worldwide. Also, natural calamities brought havoc to infrastructures and agricultural crops and livestock. The combined external and internal economic forces led to uncontrolled increase in the prices of prime commodities.

A restive studentry– The last years of the 1960s and the first two years of the 1970s witnessed the radicalization of the country's student population. Students in various colleges and universities held massive rallies and demonstrations to express their frustrations and resentments. On January 30, 1970, demonstrators numbering about 50,000 students and laborers stormed the Malacañang Palace, burning part of the medical building and crashing through Gate 4 with a fire truck that had been forcibly commandeered by laborers and students. The Metropolitan Command (Metrocom) of the Philippine Constabulary (PC) repulsed them, pushing them toward Mendiola Bridge, where, hours later, after an exchange of gunfire, four persons were killed and scores from both sides injured. Tear gas grenades finally dispersed the crowd. The event is known today as the First Quarter Storm.

Violent students protests did not end. In October 1970, a series of violent events occurred on numerous campuses in the Greater Manila Area, cited as “an explosion of pillboxes in at least two schools.” The University of the Philippines was not spared when 18,000 students boycotted their classes to demand academic and non-academic reforms in the State University, ending in the ‘occupation’ of the office of the president of the university by student leaders. Other schools in which scenes of violent student demonstrations occurred were San Sebastian College, the University of the East, Letran College, Mapua Institute of Technology, the University of Santo Tomas, Feati University and the Philippine College of Commerce (now Polytechnic University of the Philippines). Student demonstrators even succeeded in “occupying the office of the Secretary of Justice Vicente Abad Santos for at least seven hours.” The president described the brief “communization” of the University of the Philippines and the violent demonstrations of the left-leaning students as an “act of insurrection."

The re-emergence of the Communist movement – The re-emergence of the Communist movement and the threats it poised to the Philippine Republic may be best narrated by the Supreme Court in Lansang vs. Garcia on December 11, 1970, excerpts:

In the language of the Report on Central Luzon, submitted, on September 4, 1971, by the Senate Ad Hoc Committee of Seven – copy of which Report was filed in these cases by the petitioners herein –
“The years following 1963 saw the successive emergence in the country of several mass organizations, notably the Lapiang Manggagawa (now the Socialist Party of the Philippines) among the workers; the Malayang Samahan ng Magsasaka (MASAKA) among the peasantry; the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) among the youth/students; and the Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN) among the intellectuals/professionals. The PKP has exerted all-out effort to infiltrate, influence, and utilize these organizations in promoting its radical brand of nationalism.Meanwhile, the Communist leaders in the Philippines had been split into two (2) groups, one of which- composed mainly of young radicals, constituting the Maoist faction – reorganized the Communist party of the Philippines early in 1969 and established a New People’s Army. This faction adheres to the Maoist concept of the “Protracted People’s War” or “War of National Liberation.”In the year 1969, the NPA had – according to the records of the Department of National Defense – conducted raids, resorted to kidnappings and taken part in other violent incidents numbering 230, in which it inflicted 404 casualties, and in turn, suffered 243 loses.

Martial law and the New Society

— Ferdinand Marcos, January 1973

Ferdinard Marcos with Secretary of State George Shultz, 1982.
Amidst the rising wave of lawlessness and the threat of a Communist insurgency, Marcos declared martial law on September 21, 1972, by virtue of Proclamation No. 1081. Marcos, ruling by decree, curtailed press freedom and other civil liberties, closed down Congress and media establishments, and ordered the arrest of opposition leaders and militant activists, including his staunchest critics, senators Benigno Aquino, Jr., Jovito Salonga and Jose Diokno. The declaration of martial law was initially well received, given the social turmoil the Philippines was experiencing. Crime rates plunged dramatically after a curfew was implemented. Many political opponents were forced to go into exile.

A constitutional convention, which had been called for in 1970 to replace the colonial 1935 Constitution, continued the work of framing a new constitution after the declaration of martial law. The new constitution went into effect in early 1973, changing the form of government from presidential to parliamentary and allowing Marcos to stay in power beyond 1973.

Marcos claimed that martial law was the prelude to creating his Bagong Lipunan, a "New Society" based on new social and political values. The economy during the 1970s was robust, with budgetary and trade surpluses. The Gross National Product rose from P55 billion in 1972 to P193 billion in 1980. Tourism rose, contributing to the economy's growth. However, Marcos, his cronies and his wife, Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, wilfully engaged in rampant corruption.

After putting in force amendments to the constitution, legislative action, and securing his sweeping powers and with the Batasan under his control, President Marcos lifted martial law on January 17, 1981. However, the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus continued in the autonomous regions of Western Mindanaomarker and Central Mindanao. The opposition dubbed the lifting of martial law as a mere "face lifting" as a precondition to the visit of Pope John Paul II.

Marcos had a vision of a Bagong Lipunan (New Society) similar to Indonesian president Suharto's "New Order administration". He used the years of martial law to implement this vision.

According to Marcos's book, "Notes on the New Society," it was a movement urging the poor and the privileged to work as one for the common goals of society and to achieve the liberation of the Filipino people through self-realization. Marcos confiscated businesses owned by the oligarchy. More often than not, they were taken over by Marcos's family members and close personal friends, who used them as fronts to launder proceeds from institutionalized graft and corruption in the different national governmental agencies as "crony capitalism," Marcos' friends using them for personal benefit. With genuinely nationalistic motives, crony capitalism was intended to redistribute monopolies traditionally owned by Chinese and Mestizo oligarchs to Filipino businessmen though in practice, it led to graft and corruption via bribery, racketeering, and embezzlement. Marcos also silenced the free press, making the state press the only legal one. He also seized privately owned lands and distributed them to farmers. By waging an ideological war against the oligarchy, Marcos gained the support of the masses though he was to create a new one in its place. Marcos, now free from day-to-day governance which was left mostly to Enrile using his power to settle scores against old rivals, such as the Lopezes, who were always opposed to the Marcos administration. Leading opponents such as Senators Benigno Aquino, Jr., Jose Diokno, Jovito Salonga and many others were imprisoned for months or years. This practice considerably alienated the support of the old social and economic elite and the media, who criticized the Marcos administration endlessly.

The declaration of martial law was initially very well received, given the social turmoil the Philippines was experiencing though the rest of the world was surprised at how the Filipinos accepted Marcos's self-imposed dictatorship. Soon after Marcos declared martial law, one American official described the Philippines as a country composed "of 40 million cowards and one son of a bitch"; otherwise, he reasoned, they should have risen against the destroyer of their freedom. Crime rates plunged dramatically after dusk curfews were implemented and the country would enjoy economic prosperity throughout the 1970s in the midst of growing dissent to his strong-willed rule toward the end of martial law. Political opponents were given the opportunity of compliance or forced to go into exile. As a result, thousands migrated to other countries, like the U.S. and Canada. Public dissent on the streets was not tolerated and leaders of such protests were promptly arrested, detained, tortured, or never heard from again. Communist leaders, as well as sympathizers, were forced to flee from the cities to the countrysides, where they multiplied. Lim Seng, a feared drug lord, was arrested and executed in Luneta in 1972. As martial law dragged on for the next nine years, human rights violations went unchecked, and graft and corruption by the military and the administration became widespread, as made manifest by the Rolex 12.

Over the years, Marcos's hand was strengthened by the support of the armed forces, whose size he tripled to 230,000 troops, after declaring martial law in 1972. The forces included some first-rate units as well as thousands of unruly and ill equipped personnel of the civilian home defense forces and other paramilitary organizations.

Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, Chief of Staff of the Philippine Constabulary Fidel Ramos, and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Fabian Ver were the chief administrators of martial law from 1972 to 1981, and the three remained President Marcos's closest advisers until he was ousted in 1986. Enrile and Ramos would later abandon Marcos's 'sinking ship' and seek protection behind the 1986 People Power Revolution. The Catholic hierarchy and Manila's middle class were crucial to the success of the massive crusade.

Third Term (1981-1986)

— U.S.
Vice-President George H.
Bush during Ferdinand Marcos inauguration, July 1981

On June 16, 1981, six months after the lifting of martial law, the first presidential election in twelve years was held. As to be expected, President Marcos ran and won a massive victory over the other candidates. The major opposition parties, the United Nationalists Democratic Organizations (UNIDO), a coalition of opposition parties and LABAN, boycotted the elections.

On June 30, 1981, President Marcos was inaugurated in grandiose ceremonies, and he proclaimed the “birth of a new Republic,” stating he would love to be "eternal president" of the Philippines. The new republic lasted less than five years as economic and political crises led to its demise.

In 1983, opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr. was assassinated at the Manila International Airportmarker upon his return to the Philippines after a long period of exile. This coalesced popular dissatisfaction with Marcos and began a succession of events, including pressure from the United States.

Ronald Reagan and Ferdinand Marcos have always shared a very friendly relationship. There have been allegations that sizable illicit payments were paid to Reagan.


Marcoses with U.S President Ronald Reagan.
Economic performance during the Marcos era was strong at times, but when looked at over his whole regime it was not characterized by strong economic growth. Penn World Tables report real growth in GDP per capita averaged 3.5% from 1951 to 1965, while under the Marcos regime (1966 to 1986) annual average growth was only 1.4%. To help finance a number of economic development projects, such as infrastructure, the Marcos government engaged in borrowing money. Foreign capital was invited to invest in certain industrial projects. They were offered incentives, including tax exemption privileges and the privilege of bringing out their profits in foreign currencies. One of the most important economic programs in the 1980s was the Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran (Movement for Livelihood and Progress). This program was started in September 1981. Its aim was to promote the economic development of the barangays by encouraging its residents to engage in their own livelihood projects. The government's efforts resulted in the increase of the nation's economic growth rate to an average of six percent or seven percent from 1970 to 1980. The rate was only less than 5% in the previous decade. The Gross National Product rose from P55 billion ($7.7 billion) in 1972 to P193 billion ($27 billion) in 1980. Tourism rose, contributing to the economy's growth. Most of these "tourists" were Filipino balikbayans (returnees) who came under the Ministry of Tourism's Balikbayan Program, launched in 1973.

Economic growth was largely financed, however, by U.S. economic aid and several loans made to the Marcos government as the country's foreign debts increased by over 27 billion USD when Marcos assumed the presidency. A sizable amount of this money went to Marcos family and friends in the form of behest loans. These loans were assumed by the government and still being serviced by taxpayers. Today, more than half of the country's revenues are outlaid for the payments on the interests of loans alone.

Another major source of economic growth was the remittances of overseas Filipino workers. Thousands of Filipino workers, unable to find jobs locally, sought and found employment in the Middle East, Singaporemarker and Hong Kongmarker. These overseas Filipino workers not only helped ease the country's unemployment problem but also earned much-needed foreign exchange for the Philippines.

The Philippine economy suffered a great decline after the Aquino assassination in August 1983. The wave of anti-Marcos demonstrations in the country that followed scared off tourists. The political troubles also hindered the entry of foreign investments, and foreign banks stopped granting loans to the Philippine government.

In an attempt to launch a national economic recovery program, Marcos negotiated with foreign creditors including the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fundmarker (IMF), for a restructuring of the country's foreign debts – to give the Philippines more time to pay the loans. Marcos ordered a cut in government expenditures and used a portion of the savings to finance the Sariling Sikap (Self-Reliance), a livelihood program he established in 1984.

However, the economy experienced negative economic growth from the beginning of 1984 and continued to decline despite the government's recovery efforts. The recovery program's failure was caused by civil unrest, rampant graft and corruption within the government, and Marcos's lack of credibility. Marcos himself diverted large sums of government money to his party's campaign funds. The unemployment rate ballooned from 6.30% in 1972 to 12.55% in 1985.


See also: People Power Revolution
During these years, Marcos's regime was marred by rampant corruption and political mismanagement by his relatives and cronies, which culminated with the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr. Critics considered Marcos the quintessential kleptocrat, having looted billions of dollars from the Filipino treasury. The large personality cult in the Philippines surrounding Marcos also led to disdain.

During his third term, Marcos's health deteriorated rapidly due to kidney ailments, often described as lupus erythematosus. He was absent for weeks at a time for treatment, with no one to assume command. Marcos's regime was sensitive to publicity of his condition; a palace physician who alleged that during one of these periods Marcos had undergone a kidney transplant was shortly found murdered. Many people questioned whether he still had capacity to govern, due to his grave illness and the ballooning political unrest.

With Marcos ailing, his equally powerful wife, Imelda, emerged as the government's main public figure. Marcos dismissed speculations of his ailing health as he used to be an avid golfer and fitness buff who liked showing off his physique. In light of these growing problems, the assassination of Aquino in 1983 would later prove to be the catalyst that led to his overthrow. Many Filipinos came to believe that Marcos, a shrewd political tactician, had no hand in the murder of Aquino but that he was involved in cover-up measures. However, the opposition blamed Marcos directly for the assassination while others blamed the military and his wife, Imelda. The 1985 acquittals of Ver as well as other high-ranking military officers for the crime were widely seen as a miscarriage of justice.

By 1984, his close personal ally, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, started distancing himself from the Marcos regime that he and previous American presidents had strongly supported even after Marcos declared martial law. The United Statesmarker, which had provided hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, was crucial in buttressing Marcos's rule over the years. During the Carter administration the relation with the U.S. soured somewhat when President Jimmy Carter targeted the Philippines in his human rights campaign.

In the face of escalating public discontent and under pressure from foreign allies, Marcos called a snap presidential election for 1986, with more than a year left in his term. He selected Arturo Tolentino as his running mate. The opposition united behind Aquino's widow, Corazon, and her running mate, Salvador Laurel.

The final tally of the National Movement for Free Elections, an accredited poll watcher, showed Aquino winning by almost 800,000 votes. However, the government tally showed Marcos winning by almost 1.6 million votes. This appearance of blatant fraud by Marcos led the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and the United States Senate to condemn the elections. Both Marcos and Aquino traded accusations of vote-rigging. Popular sentiment in Metro Manila sided with Aquino, leading to a massive, multisectoral congregation of protesters and the gradual defection of the military led by Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and Acting Chief of Staff Fidel V. Ramos. It must be noted that prior to his defection Enrile's arrest warrant for graft and corruption was about to be served. The "People Power movement" drove Marcos into exile and installed Corazon Aquino as the new president. At the height of the revolution, Enrile revealed that his ambush was faked in order for Marcos to have a pretext for imposing martial law. However, Marcos maintained that he was the duly elected and proclaimed president of the Philippines for a fourth term.

The Philippine government today is still paying interest in public debts incurred during Marcos' administration. It was reported that, when Marcos fled, U.S. Customs agents discovered 24 suitcases of gold bricks and diamond jewelry hidden in diaper bags and in addition, certificates for gold bullion valued in the billions of dollars were allegedly among the personal properties he, his family, his cronies and business partners surreptitiously took with them when the Reagan administration provided them safe passage to Hawaii, Marcos' wife found to have over 2500 pairs of shoes in her closet..

Later life and death

The Marcos family and their associates went into exile in Hawaiimarker, USA and were later indicted for embezzlement in the United States. Marcos died in Honolulumarker on September 28, 1989, of kidney, heart and lung ailments. He was interred in a private mausoleum at Byodo-In Templemarker on the island of Oahu, visited daily by the Marcos family, political allies and friends. The late strongman's remains are currently interred inside a refrigerated crypt in Ilocos Nortemarker, where his son, Ferdinand, Jr., and eldest daughter, Imee, have since become the local governor and representative, respectively. A Mount Rushmoremarker-esque bust of Ferdinand Marcos, commissioned by Tourism Minister Jose Aspiras, was earlier carved into a hillside in Benguet. It was subsequently destroyed by suspects that include left-wing activists, members of a local tribe who have been displaced by its construction, and looters hunting for the Marcos' legendary hidden treasure. Imelda Marcos was acquitted of embezzlement by a U.S. court in 1990 but was still facing a few hundred additional graft charges in Philippine courts in 2006.

In 1995 some 10,000 Filipinos won a U.S. class-action lawsuit filed against the Marcos estate. The charges were filed by victims or their surviving relatives for torture, execution and disappearances.

On June 12, 2008, the US Supreme Courtmarker (in a 7-2 ruling penned by Justice Anthony Kennedy in “Republic of the Philippines v. Mariano Pimentel”) held that: “The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is reversed, and the case is remanded with instructions to order the District Court to dismiss the interpleader action.” The court dismissed the interpleader lawsuit filed by 9,500 Filipino human rights victims (1972-1986) to recover $35 million, part of a $2 billion judgment in U.S. courts against the Marcos estate, because the Philippines is an indispensable party, protected by sovereign immunity. It claimed ownership of the funds transferred by Marcos in 1972 to Arelma S.A., which invested the money with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc., in New York.

Human rights groups place the number of victims of extrajudicial killings under martial law at 1500 and Karapatan, a local human rights group's records show 759 involuntarily disappeared (their bodies never found). Military historian Alfred McCoy in his book "Closer than Brothers: Manhood at the Philippine Military Academy" and in his speech "Dark Legacy" cites 3,257 extrajudicial killings, 35,000 torture victims, and 70,000 incarcerated during the Marcos years. The newspaper Bulatlat (lit. "to open carelessly") places the number of victims of arbitrary arrest and detention at 120,000.


Prior to Marcos, Philippine presidents had followed the path of using their position to help along friends and allies before stepping down for the next player. Marcos essentially destroyed this setup through military rule, which allowed him to favor only the Marcoses and their allies.

His practice of using the politics of patronage in his desire to be the ninong or godfather of not just the people but the judiciary, legislative and administrative branches of the government ensured his downfall, no matter how Marcos justified it according to his own philosophy of the "politics of achievement." This practice entailed bribery, racketeering, and embezzlement to gain the support of the aforementioned sectors. The 14 years of his dictatorship, according to critics, have warped the legislature, judiciary and the military.

Another allegation was that his family and cronies looted so much wealth from the country that to this day investigators have difficulty determining precisely how many billions of dollars have been salted away. The Swiss government has also returned 684 million USD in allegedly ill-gotten Marcos wealth.

According to staunch Marcos critic Jovito Salonga, author of the book "Presidential Plunder: the Quest for the Marcos Ill-Gotten Wealth," monopolies in several vital industries have been created and placed under the control of Marcos cronies, such as coconut (under Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile), tobacco (under Lucio Tan), banana (under Antonio Floirendo), sugar (under Roberto Benedicto) and manufacturing (under Herminio Disini and Ricardo Silverio). The Marcos and Romualdez families became owners, directly or indirectly, of the nation's largest corporations, such as the Philippine Long Distance Company (PLDT), the Philippine Airlines (PAL), Meralco (a national electric company), Fortune Tobacco, the San Miguel Corporation (Asia's largest beer and bottling company), numerous newspapers, radio and TV broadcasting companies (such as ABS-CBN), several banks, and real estate properties in New York, California and Hawaii. The Aquino government also accused them of skimming off foreign aid and international assistance.

His supporters claim Marcos was a good president gone bad and that he was a man of rare gifts — a brilliant lawyer, a shrewd politician and keen legal analyst with a ruthless streak and a flair for leadership. Having been in power for more than 20 years, Marcos also had the very rare opportunity to lead the Philippines toward prosperity, with massive infrastructure he put in place as well as an economy on the rise.However, he put these talents to work by building a regime that he apparently intended to perpetuate as a dynasty. A former aide of Marcos said that "nobody will ever know what a remarkable president he could have made. That's the saddest part." Among the many documents he left behind in the palace, after he fled in 1986, was one appointing his wife as his successor.

Opponents state that the evidence suggests that he used the communist threat as a pretext for seizing power. However, the communist insurgency was at its peak during the late 1960s to early 1970s when it was found out that the People's Republic of Chinamarker was shipping arms to support the communist cause in the Philippines after the interception of a vessel containing loads of firearms. After he was overthrown, former Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile stated that certain incidents had been contrived to justify the imposition of martial law, such as Enrile's ambush.

The dictatorship may have helped boost the communist insurgency's strength and numbers but not to the point that could have led to the overthrow of the elected government. Marcos's regime was crucial in the United States' fight against communism and its influences, with Marcos himself being a staunch anti-communist. Marcos however was contrary to his strongman image a pacifist, and as much as possible avoided bloodshed and confrontation.

His most ardent supporters claim Marcos had genuine concern for reforming the society as evidenced by his actions during the period, up until his cronies, whom he entirely trusted, had firmly entrenched themselves in the government. By then, they say he was too ill and too dependent on them to act. The same has been said about his relationship with his wife Imelda, who became the government's main public figure in light of his illness, by then wielding perhaps more power than Marcos himself.

It is important to note that many laws written by Marcos are still in force and in effect. Out of thousands of proclamations, decrees and executive orders, only a few were repealed, revoked, modified or amended. Few credit Marcos for promoting Filipino culture and nationalism. His 21 years in power with the help of U.S. massive economic aid and foreign loans enabled Marcos to build more schools, hospitals and infrastructure than any of his predecessors combined. Due to his iron rule, he was able to impose order and reduce crime by strict implementation of the law. The relative economic success that the Philippines enjoyed during the initial part of his presidency is hard to dispel. Many of Marcos's accomplishments were overlooked after the so-called "People Power Revolution," but the Marcos era definitely had accomplishments in its own right.

A journalist said that "the Marcoses were the best of us, and they were the worst of us. That's why we say we hate them so much."

Writer Manuel L. Quezon III states that "in the end, as Marcos’s health and grip on power weakened, he came to validate what is said to be the fundamental weakness of all strong man regimes: as the saying goes, nothing grows under the shade of a great tree. Marcos could not — would not — provide for a successor; and it was on the fundamental question of what should come after Marcos that his regime began to crumble, and fell... that he himself, with his virtues (and he had many: love of country, love of learning, discipline, loyalty) and his defects (confusing form with substance, ignoring how the means power is acquired is as important as how you use it, tolerance of his supporters’ mistakes, and his using armed force to compensate for some political weaknesses) are as much about our society’s strengths and weaknesses, as they were about his own. "

According to Transparency International, Marcos is the first Philippine Head of State and the second most corrupt head of government ever, after Suharto, with Estrada as the tenth and second Philippine Head of State in terms of corruption. Even so, according to a recent survey, some Filipinos prefer Marcos's rule due to the shape of the country in administrations succeeding his.


Looking back at history, during the Marcos administration, social justice finds concrete translation in development plans and programs. These interventions were focused on eliminating illiteracy, expanding employment opportunities, sharing the fruits of development equitably and introducing requisite of institutional change. The measures of development—the Gross National Product (GNP), literacy rate, and life expectancy had been secured during his lead. The following deserted accomplishments are:

I. Food sufficiency

A. Green Revolution

Production of rice was increased through promoting the cultivation of IR-8 hybrid rice. In 1968 the Philippines became self-sufficient in rice, the first time in history since the American period. It also exported rice worth US$7 million.

B. Blue Revolution

Marine species like prawn, mullet, milkfish, and golden tilapia were being produced and distributed to farmers at a minimum cost. Today, milkfish and prawns contribute substantially to foreign exchange income.

C. Liberalized Credit

More than one thousand rural banks spread all over the country resulting to the accessibility of credit to finance purchase of agricultural inputs, hired labor, and harvesting expenses at very low interest rate. During 1981-1985, credit was available without interest and collateral arrangements. Some of the credit programs were the ff:

1. Biyayang Dagat (credit support for fishermen)

2. Bakahang Barangay --supported fattening of 40,000 head of cattle in farmer backyards

3. Masaganang Maisan, Maisagana, and Expanded Yellow Corn Program --supported 1.4 Million farmers through P4.7 Billion loans from 1975-1985

4. Gulayan sa Kalusugan and Pagkain ng Bayan Programs --provided grants and loans of P12.4 Million to encourage backyard and communal production of vegetables and improve nutrition of Filipino households

5. Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran (KKK)—supported 25,000 entrepreneurial projects through P1.8 Billion and helping 500,000 beneficiaries

D. Decontrol Program

Price control polices were implemented on rice and corn to provide greater incentive to farmers to produce more. Deregulation of trading in commodities like sugar and coconut and agricultural inputs like fertilizer were done for more efficient marketing and trading arrangements.

II. Education Reform

Access to free education widened during the Marcos Administration. The biggest portion of the budget was allotted for Educational Programs (P58.7 Billion in 20 years). The literacy rate climbed from 72% in 1965 to 93% in 1985 and almost 100% in Metro Manila on the same year.

III. Agrarian Reform

Tenant’s Emancipation Act of 1972 or PD 27 was implemented without bloodshed. This was the first Land Reform Code our country. Since it was implemented until December 1985, 1.2 million farmers benefited, either they became the owner or leaseholder in more than 1.3 million hectares of rice and corn lands.

IV. Primary Health Care

The Primary Health Care (PHC) Program made medical care accessible to millions of Filipinos in the remotest barrios of the country. This program was even awarded by United Nations as the most effective and most responsive health program among the third world countries. With PHC life expectancy increased from 53.7 years in 1965 to 65 years in 1985. Infant mortality rate also declined from 73 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1965 to 58 in 1984.

V. Housing for the masses

Bagong Lipunan Improvement of Sites and Services (BLISS) Housing project had expanded the government’s housing program for the low-income group. Massive slum upgrading projects have improved to 14,000 lots in 1985 from 2,500 in 1976. The Tondo foreshore, for instance, is one of the biggest and most miserable slum colonies in Asia was transformed into a decent community. A total of 230,000 housing units were constructed from 1975-1985.
The laws on socialized housing were conceptualized by President Marcos through a series of legal issuances from the funding, the lending, mortgaging and to the collection of the loans. These are governed by the Home Mutual Development Fund (Pag-Ibig Fund), the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) and the National Home Mortgage Finance which remain intact up to the present

VI. Energy Self-Reliance

Indigenous energy sources were developed like hydro, geothermal, dendrothermal, coal, biogas and biomass. The country became the first in Asia to use dendrothermal and in five years we became number two, next to US, in geothermal utilization. The extensive energy resource research and exploration and development resulted to reduction of oil imports from 100% in 1965 to 40% in 1985 and in the same year, more than 1,400 towns and cities were fully energized.

VII. Export Development

During 1985 textile and textile products like garments and embroideries, furniture and rattan products, marine products like prawns and milkfish, raw silk, shoes, dehydrated and fresh fruits were exported aside from the traditional export products like coconut, sugar, logs, lumber and veneer. The maritime industry was also dominated by Filipinos wherein 50,000 seamen were employed by various world shipping companies.

VIII. Labor Reform

The Labor code was promulgated which expanded the concerns  of the Magna Carta of Labor to extend greater protection to labor, promote employment, and human resource development. The minimum wages of the workers were boosted through the guaranteed 13th month pay and cost of living allowances. Employment potentials of Filipinos were enhanced through skills training. During that time, there were 896,000 out-of-school youths and unemployed graduated from various training centers all over the country.

IX. Unprecedented Infrastructure Growth

The country’s road network had improved from 55,778 kilometers in 1965 to 77,950 in five years (1970), and eventually reached 161,000 kilometers in 1985. Construction of irrigation facilities was also done that made 1.5 million hectares of land irrigated and increased the farmer’s harvest and income. In addition, nationwide telecommunication systems—telephone systems, telex exchange too centers, and interprovincial toll stations were also built.

X. Political Reform

The structure of government established by President Marcos remains substantially the same except the change of name, inclusive of superficial features in laws, to give a semblance of change from that of President Marcos regime.

The only significant department that was abolished after the departure of President Marcos was the Department of Ministry of Human Settlements under Imelda Romualdez Marcos. It was dismantled but the functions were distributed to different offices.

XII. Fiscal Reform

Government finances were stabilized by higher revenue collections and loans from treasury bonds, foreign lending institutions and foreign governments.

XI. Peace and Order

In 1966, more than 100 important smugglers were arrested; in three years 1966-68 they arrested a total of 5,000. Military men involved in smuggling were forced to retire.Peace and order significantly improved in most provinces however situations in Manila and some provinces continued to deteriorate until the imposition of martial law in 1972.


  • Today's Revolution: Democracy (1971)
  • Notes on the New Society of the Philippines II(1976)
  • Marcos' Notes for the Cancun Summit, 1981 (1981)
  • Progress and Martial Law (1981)
  • The New Philippine Republic: A Third World Approach to Democracy (1982)
  • An Ideology for Filipinos (1983)
  • Toward a New Partnership: The Filipino Ideology (1983)

Further readings

  • Salonga, Jovito (2001). Presidential Plunder: The Quest for Marcos Ill-gotten Wealth. Regina Pub. Co., Manila
  • Bonner, Raymond (1987). Waltzing with a Dictator: The Marcoses and the Making of American Policy. Times Books, New York ISBN 0-8129-1326-4
  • Seagrave, Sterling (1988): The Marcos Dynasty, Harper Collins
  • Aquino, Belinda, editor (1982). Cronies and Enemies: the Current Philippine Scene. University of Hawaii
  • Library of Congress Country Studies: Philippines. The Inheritance from Marcos


  1. Philippines cult idolises Marcos. BBC News Online. December 8, 1999
  2. Mariano Marcos vs. Roman A. Cruz Philippines Supreme Court
  3. Justice Jose P. Laurel penned the ponencia (in People vs. Mariano Marcos, et al., 70 Phil. 468) which was concurred by chief justice Avanceña and justices Imperial, Diaz, and Horilleno.
  4. Hamilton-Paterson, James. (1998). America's boy. Granta Books. ISBN 978-1862070240 (p. 77)
  5. Ferdinand Edralin Marcos. Philippines Senate
  6. Ibid.
  7. Manuel A. Caoili. “The Philippine Congress and the Political Order,” Philippine Journal of Public Administration, Vol.XXX no. 1 (January, 1986), p. 21.
  8. To name a few: Carlos P. Romulo, Secretary of Education (later Secretary of Foreign Affairs); Rafael Salas, Executive Secretary; Jose Yulo, Secretary of Justice; Marcelo Balatbat, Secretary of Commerce; Cesar Virata, Secretary of Finance; Jose Aspiras, Press Secretary; Paulino Garcia, Secretary of Health; Narciso Ramos, Secretary of Foreign Affairs; Claudio Teehankee, Undersecretary of Justice; Onofre Corpuz, Undersecretary (later, Secretary) of Education; Juan Ponce Enrile, Undersecretary of Finance (later Secretary of National Defense); Fernando Campos, Undersecretary of Commerce; Romeo Edu, Commissioner on Land Transportation; Teotino Aguilar, Undersecretary of General Services; Benjamin del Rosario, General Manager of the Government Service Insurance System; Blas Ople, Social Security Commissioner (later, Secretary of Labor and Employment); Col. Salvador Villa, Chairman of the Philippine National Railways; former Press Secretary Jose Nabu, Presidential Assistant on Housing; and Jose Zulueta, Presidential Consultant on Local Government.
  9. Manuel Caoili, op. cit
  10. The North Diversion Road initially went from Balintawak to Tabang, Guiguinto, Bulacan.
  11. Szczepanski, Kallie. Biography of Ferdinand Marcos.
  12. Ferdinand E. Marcos, Today’s Revolution: Democracy (Manila, 1971), p. v
  13. Aquino vs. Enrile, 59 SCRA 183, Concurring Opinion of Justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma citing issues of the Manila Times on October 1,3,4,5,8,13,23 and 24, 1970.
  14. THE PHILIPPINES: Farewell to Democracy, TIME Magazine, January 29, 1973
  15. Philippines: Together Again, TIME Magazine, July 13, 1981
  17., Supreme Court rules in Marcos assets
  18., REPUBLIC OF PHILIPPINES ET AL. v. PIMENTEL, June 12, 2008, No. 06–1204
  19., Court ruling hinders Marcos victims seeking funds
  20. [1]
  21. Lacsamana, Philippine History and Government, p. 189

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