Corruption, economic crisis under the reign of Marcos
From February 22 to 25, the nation again commemorates those four days – 36 years ago – when Filipinos rose up in determined but peaceful protest, converged on Edsa and stopped military tanks and soldiers with their own bodies. troops sent to disperse them. This popular uprising, replicated in other parts of the country, ended the 14-year-old Marcos dictatorship.
A disturbing specter, however, lurks in the atmosphere: “No to the return of the Marcos to Malacañang and to the prolonged maintenance of Duterte in power! is the outcry of a significant part of the population. The specter could materialize if the Marcos-Duterte tandem, billed as the leader by a wide margin in pre-official campaign polls, wins the presidency and vice-presidency in the May 9 election.
I will just quote and quote four critical articles written by other columnists.
• In a column in PhilSTAR’s Lifestyle section on Jan. 30, writer Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura flashed back to 1972 (the year Marcos declared martial law). Just 28, “still young and stupid” with small children in need of her care, she moved “into a nice house in an expensive housing estate” with a former banker, then one of the finance undersecretaries of Marks.
The man astonished him “and seized [her] heart” when he answered “No” to her question: Are you for the Marcos? She remembered him saying, “I see myself as cosmetics, as lipstick. I think they hired me because I make them look good.
“The first brick that built my knowledge, my resentment towards martial law and the Marcos,” Gonzalez-Ventura recalls, was when his partner answered a phone call to their house, hearing him laugh and tell the calling: “Kung ang pera tumatawa, tanggapin mo. Huwag kang mag-alala. “That was my friend, the lawyer,” he told her. She was shocked: “That was the first real suspicion of bribes.” Six years passed, during which she increasingly realized the extent of the corruption: he kept five briefcases at home, each filled with cash.
“It had become his lifestyle. Over time and her success with the First Lady and through her the President, they — and life — got progressively worse,” she wrote. In 1977, she broke off the relationship.
“Please don’t believe what the Marcos are saying about their lives at this time,” Gonzalez-Ventura urged his readers. “Their money laughed loudly and heartily. They took everything they could from the Philippines until the day they had to stop. Then she thought: “One day they will suffer from it. Maybe that day is dawning.
• Social scientist Mahar Mangahas, in his February 12 Inquirer column, revisited a series of surveys conducted in 1981-1983, which he initiated as research director of the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP ). The DAP was about to publish a book about the findings, but “changed its mind” just before printing in 1983. Why?
A partial explanation can be gleaned from these example responses to an April-May 1981 survey of adults in Metro Manila who were asked to compare conditions between 1981 and before martial law: On bribery and bribery, 49% said it was worse under martial law. The prevalence of crime was also considered worse (50%), as was inflation (75%).
These negative perceptions of people themselves, writes Mangahas, contradict claims of a “golden age” during martial law in the late 1970s or early 1980s.
• PhilSTAR business columnists Boo Chanco and Iris Gonzales on Feb. 16 wrote back-to-back articles about Marcos’ cronies and the economic impact of their companies’ huge debts to the government.
Chanco recalled that economic directors at Marcos were embarrassed in New York when the main bank that handles the country’s account said the Central Bank had overvalued its foreign exchange reserves by $600 million in 1983.
“We were caught with our pants down,” he quoted Cesar Buenaventura, a member of the Monetary Council who was part of the delegation in New York, in an interview on February 12.
“The country was broke. It was caused by a combination of factors making up a perfect storm,” Chanco wrote. “Marcos’ buddies could not pay PNB, DBP, GSIS, causing a crisis between the three GFIs [government financing institutions].” He cited the measures taken to resolve the crisis, but the economic mess has worsened. “Stagflation set in and GDP contracted for successive years. As a result, many businesses failed.
As an epilogue, Chanco wrote: “Marcos bankrupted the central bank; it had to be disbanded and replaced by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Even today, bad Marcos Central Bank accounts are still being paid by taxpayers.
Gonzales, for her part, recalled that Imelda Marcos made a “damning revelation” (in a 1998 Inquirer interview) that some of the nation’s giant corporations were actually owned by her family, that the supposed owners “merely served as models for the Marcos.”
“We own practically everything in the Philippines,” Ms. Marcos boasted, referring to “electricity, telecommunications, airlines, banks, beer and tobacco, newspaper publishing, television stations , shipping, petroleum and mining, hotels and resorts, down to coconut milling, small farms, real estate and insurance.
Matriarch Marcos claimed that “up to 1 trillion pesos of equity in more than 100 large companies” had been entrusted by Marcos Sr. to his associates. Gonzales noted, however, that some of today’s Taipans and businessmen have already won favorable court rulings proving ownership of their respective businesses.
“The question circulating in the business community these days,” Gonzales pointed out, “is: What would Marcos Jr. do with these businesses if he became president? Would he continue his family’s supposed actions in different companies? Would that be part of Marcos Jr.’s agenda if he wins?
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Posted in Philippine Star
February 19, 2022