MARCOS


Under investigation Imelda Marcos asks Filipino court's permission to visit China

Former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos has asked an anti-graft court to allow her to travel for two weeks in China and Hong Kong, where she will seek eye treatment and be a guest at a trade exhibition, her lawyer said Wednesday.

The 78-year-old widow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos is not detained, but faces a string of criminal and civil cases related to billions of dollars in alleged ill-gotten wealth amassed by her family during her husband's 20-year rule.

Lawyer Robert Sison said Marcos has been invited to be a guest of honor at a trade exhibition in the northeastern Chinese province of Jilin and wants to visit Hong Kong to consult an eye doctor for her glaucoma. She may also seek treatment from a Chinese traditional doctor for pain in her knee, he added.

Sison said he filed a request with the anti-graft court to allow Marcos to travel Sept. 1-14, after which she promises to return home. The former beauty queen, known for her extensive shoe and jewelry collection, has previously been allowed by the court to travel overseas.

In 2003, she left for the United States for medical treatment and to France, Portugal and Italy for a religious pilgrimage.

She was given permission to leave the Philippines for Hong Kong last year for medical treatment, but canceled her trip because of a massive landslide near her hometown.

A "people power" revolt ousted Ferdinand Marcos in February 1986, forcing him and his family to flee to Hawaii, where he died in exile in 1989.

The government said it has recovered at least $1.7 billion in cash and assets from the Marcos family and their associates over two decades, including Swiss bank deposits holding at least $680 million.   - AP  2007 August 29

Marcos family returning to the limelight in the Philippines

When Imelda Marcos, the flamboyant widow of Ferdinand Marcos, the former Philippine dictator, celebrated her birthday last week, the festivities took place at a mansion that used to be one of her husband's guest houses, a building that has since been confiscated by the government.

She and her children had "beautiful memories" of the mansion, Marcos told reporters during the party, at which she distributed fake jewelry made of cheap plastic because, as she put it, "I see beauty in everything, even garbage."

The government said last week it was still investigating why Marcos was allowed to hold a party at the mansion, which symbolizes to many the excesses of her husband's regime.

Still, it was just the latest indication that the Marcoses, who ruled the country for more than two decades and whose name has been synonymous with corruption, extravagance and brutality, are enjoying a popular revival.

The Marcoses' return to the limelight, other analysts say, is due in part to the government's failure to prosecute them successfully for corruption, despite what investigators call a vast amount of evidence, spanning the two decades from 1965 through their fall from power in 1986, linking various family members to massive theft of government resources.

After two decades of building legal cases against the Marcos in the Philippines and abroad, in hopes of reclaiming an estimated $10 billion it says the Marcoses stole during their two-decade hold on power, the Philippine government has suffered a series of stinging courtroom defeats in recent weeks.

The victories have emboldened the family, led by Imelda, to wage a renewed struggle to regain control not just of their assets, many still frozen by the government, but also their place in the country's history.

Also facilitating the Marcoses's revival, according to the sociologist Michael Tan, is that Filipino culture is, by nature, a forgiving one. The Marcos family, once widely despised, has had little difficulty finding a nostalgic soft-spot in the popular consciousness.

"A new generation has matured knowing the Marcoses as celebrities," said Manuel Quezon, a presidential historian. "The old anti-Marcos alliance has been decimated by age, migration, political disunity and legal bungling."

Despite the family's ignominious ouster during the People Power uprising of 1986, the Marcos mystique, reminders of which dot the landscape in the form of thousands of edifices and civic projects Imelda and her husband built during their years in power, had never entirely disappeared.

"Marcos may have been corrupt, yes, but which administration wasn't?" mused Dennis Caraos, a security guard at a residential subdivision in Manila. "He may have been brutal, but how about now? At least Marcos did many good things."

Marcos allies have remained in power throughout the period following Ferdinand's ouster, retaining a variety of potent military, commercial and administrative roles in succeeding administrations.

Ferdinand died in exile in Hawaii in 1989. Imelda and the Marcos clan moved back to the Philippines in 1991 and immediately set about rebuilding their political fortunes.

Ferdinand Jr., the former leader's son, served as congressman and is now governor of Ilocos Norte Province, the traditional power base of the Marcos family (and where the dictator's preserved remains are on public display at a family mausoleum).

Imee, Ferdinand's daughter, also served in Congress representing Ilocos Norte, a position she yielded to a cousin in the elections of May.

Imee's son, Borgy, is one of the country's most popular models. Imelda's brothers and other relatives continue to dominate politics in Leyte Province in the central Philippines, where her family has strong roots.

Over the past year, the Marcoses, Imelda, and Imee in particular, have embarked upon an unprecedented campaign to rehabilitate the father's legacy.

Most recently, the pair issued seven books on the Marcos presidency, purveying what many would consider a revisionist view of the regime. Because Ferdinand's favorite number was seven, the books were released July 7.

"It is time that we respect what was past and what was part of our story, and it is time indeed that all these stories be told," Imee said at the book launch.

"This is really bringing out the truth about the Marcoses, who I think played a very major role for 20 years in this country's history," Imelda, at the same function, said in a speech at the book launch.

The Marcos years, she added, "really set the foundation of our nationhood."

Last week, Sandiganbayan, the anti-graft court where many of the cases against the Marcoses were filed, dismissed the government's case to recover $4.7 million in deposits allegedly owned by the Marcoses at Security Bank and Trust.

The court said the Presidential Commission on Good Government, created in 1986 to recover Marcos assets stashed in the Philippines and overseas, had failed to offer testimony to prove that the money was obtained unlawfully.

Last month, a separate court acquitted Imelda of tax evasion charges, and the Swiss Federal Supreme Court ordered the unfreezing of $4 million in bank accounts of Herminio Disini, a close Marcos confidant who had allegedly amassed millions of dollars in preferential loans, given to cronies without collateral, from government banks.

Also in June, Imelda's brother Alfredo was acquitted by a Philippine court of charges that he used his influence to sell, in 1974, government property to a company allegedly owned by Ferdinand. The court said the commission based its case on documents that were unauthenticated photocopies.

Last week, local media reports said the Marcoses were poised to take back several other properties in the Philippines after the Presidential Commission on Good Government lifted its sequestration orders on these assets. The commission has not formally announced its decision.

In the late 1980s, the Marcoses faced nearly a thousand criminal and civil cases related to corruption and human rights violations. But so far, only $1.7 billion in assets have been recovered, and a good portion of those may ultimately revert back into the family's control.

"The administrations after 1986 were never really serious about prosecuting the Marcoses," said Earl Parreno, a political analyst who wrote a book on Eduardo Cojuangco, the San Miguel chief and Marcos protegé who fled the country with the dictator's family in 1986, but returned in 1989 to reclaim the chairmanship of Asia's largest brewery.

Only 60 cases against the family are still active, according to Robert Sison, Imelda's lawyer.

The government has resorted in some cases to out-of-court settlements with the Marcoses, but most have wound down with no settlement and no verdict.

As a result, the Presidential Commission on Good Government has been excoriated by anti-Marcos politicians and human-rights groups. Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., a veteran Marcos critic, wants to see the commission admit failure and dissolve.

"Twenty-one years after its creation, the commission has not produced any significant accomplishments that would justify its continued existence," he said last week after introducing a bill that would abolish the body. - by Carlos H. Conde    INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE     2007 July 8

Marcos still haunts Phillipines in mansion Sale

MANILA A Spanish-style Manila mansion owned by former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda failed to sell Wednesday in a government auction, dashing hopes that asset sales might help reduce the country's record budget deficits.

No bids were submitted for the mansion, a property on Manila Bay, and for a beach house in Marcos's home province of Ilocos Norte, all seized 10 years ago when the family failed to pay back taxes, said Licerio Evangelista, deputy tax commissioner. It was the same story at the separate auction of a prime government lot in Manila's business district. No buyers showed up for the third time running.

"I don't know if they're serious about privatizing," said Luz Lorenzo, economist of ATR-Kim Eng Capital Partners Inc. "They may not be realistic about prices, and we're getting to the dregs."

About 200 billion pesos ($3.7 billion) of government assets were sold between 1987 to 2001, including part of Manila's Fort Bonifacio army base, the city's water franchises and stakes in Petron Corp. and Philippine National Bank. Only about 1 billion pesos have been sold since, analysts estimate.

The government was asking 175 million pesos for properties that once belonged to Marcos, including the mansion where, legend says, Marcos took his bride Imelda after a two-week courtship in 1954. The house, filled with paintings and pictures of the couple in favorite heroic poses, contains some of Imelda's shoe collection, which came to exemplify the extravagance of the Marcos regime.

Marcos fled the Philippines in 1986 after a popular uprising with his wife leaving behind more than 3,000 pairs of designer shoes. Imelda returned to the Philippines after her husband died in exile in Hawaii, and two of her children were elected to public office.

The Marcoses, according to critics, stole 20 billion pesos from public coffers. That's about a tenth of the budget deficit the administration of President Gloria Arroyo is forecasting this year, after a record 211 billion peso deficit in 2002.

The government has 40 billion pesos of assets still awaiting sale, the finance undersecretary, Eric Recto said. The assets include the government's 10 percent stake in Manila Electric Co.

The 4.8-hectare (12-acre) lot in Manila's Makati district, which once housed a school for children of wealthy Filipinos and expatriates, has been up for sale for three years. The government cut the asking price to 1.9 billion pesos from 2.9 billion pesos in 2000, Recto said.

Robinsons Land Corp., which was considering the site for mall, housing and office space, did not bid.

"The minimum bid price was too high to make the project feasible," said the company's executive vice president, Frederick Go.

The government may be getting the message. Recto said the government may negotiate a lower price.

As for those Marcos properties? The government said it will try to sell them - back to the Marcos family.    - by Jun Ebias and Francisco Alcuaz Jr  Bloomberg News  INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE   2003 June 11

Fake gems shine for Imelda

No wonder the Philippines' flamboyant former first lady Imelda Marcos loves to shop in Hong Kong.

The former Miss Manila, who last week turned 78, is known for her extensive shoe collection and eye-popping diamond jewelry. But the wealthy socialite revealed during a media briefing she has resorted to wearing plastic accessories she made herself because the government has sequestered her expensive jewelry.

Pointing to a set of emerald-colored earrings and brooch, she said: "This is made of resin - plastic that is worth 50 pesos (HK$8.50)."

Holding up a bracelet that she said she bought for 80 pesos, she proudly said: "It glitters, but it is fake. I am proud. It is beautiful. It does not have to be diamonds."

Last year Marcos launched "The Imelda Collection" - a jewelry line she described as "both worthless and priceless," made from glass beads, gold-plated chains and recycled plastic.

The widow of President Ferdinand Marcos at one point faced more than 900 criminal and civil cases, mostly for violation of graft and corruption laws during her husband's 20-year rule.

But many have been dismissed, with only 40 criminal cases and fewer than 20 civil suits remaining, said her lawyer Robert Sison.

The Philippines government said it has recovered at least US$1.7 billion (HK$13.26 billion) in cash and assets from the Marcoses and their associates over two decades. That should still leave her with plenty, though, for shopping sprees here in search of fake gear.    - THE STANDARD   2007  July 9

Shoe maven Imelda Marcos has a new collection
Former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos wears jewelry she made herself in a photo shoot in Manila, Philippines 

Former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos, notorious for an extensive shoe collection and eye-popping jewels accrued under her husband's dictatorship, is launching a jewelry collection she "recycled" using castoffs from her old wardrobe.

Marcos, known for her shopping trips to ritzy shops in New York while the country wallowed in poverty, made the one-of-a-kind pieces from her old accessories and clothes, mixed with newly bought stones and other materials.

Her daughter, Rep. Imee Marcos, said that unknown to many people, her mother shops for trinkets and accessories at flea markets, and keeps earrings with a missing pair or brooches that have some missing stones.

Using her own glue gun, scissors or pliers, Imelda "can combine them with her vintage items in a way that comes out beautiful," Imee said during a promotional photo shoot that journalists were invited to.

The 77-year-old grandmother and widow of Ferdinand Marcos took time out Monday to talk to reporters in between hectic photo shoots for brochures that will launch "The Imelda Collection" of fashion jewelry later this month.

Lying on a divan in a Manila hotel's seaside garden, Imelda was clad in gossamer top with a butterfly design and black pants for the photographs. For the brochure, she modeled several chunky necklaces, rings and bracelet sets, some made with fake tiger eye stones.

Pointing to a set of matching earrings and brooch made of blue imitation tiger eye stone she was wearing, she told reporters, "This thing I wear now is something I recycled."

Imelda said the jewelry collection was the idea of her grandson Martin "Borgy" Manotoc, who was directing the photo shot.

Manotoc, Imelda said, told her, "You are creating beautiful things, like jewels from practically garbage."

The collection will be officially launched November 18, most likely in Manila.

The first designs to be shown to the public are the accessories and the jewelry and will "not yet" include shoes, her daughter said. But a close aide of the Marcoses said there are plans to expand the collection to include shoes, clothes, and maybe furniture.

Describing how the collection came to be, Imelda recalled, "One day my grandson came to me and said, `Mama Meldy, I would like to use your collection to tell the world the real Imelda and the spirit of my grandma.' "

"What we are selling is not something valuable, but ... it is something invaluable because it's only beauty that can feed the spirit," she continued.

"Even Plato said God is made real in what is beautiful," she said. - AP  2006 November

Imelda starts bling business

Imelda Marcos, the Philippines' former first lady famed for her rapacious extravagance, plans to launch a line of cheap accessories and sports shoes aimed at the youth market this month.

The widow of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, renowned for amassing 1,500 pairs of shoes and a vast collection of jewels during her husband's 20-year regime, said Monday that her trinkets and sneakers would be affordable to the masses.

"This is more than about money because money can only buy you food and things like that, but only beauty can feed your soul and your spirit," said Marcos, wearing a chunky blue brooch and matching earrings.

The Imelda Collection, a range of low-cost but glitzy jewelry, bags and trainers, is aimed at a generation not yet born when the former beauty queen swept through Manila in sequined stilettos and diamond tiaras.

"I think the younger generation are much more open to my mother because the older generation has prejudged her," said Imee Marcos, a congresswoman and the oldest Marcos child.

Reporters were not shown the accessories, which Imee said would include pieces from her mother's own collection as well as designs created by Imee and her son Fernando Manotoc.

The Marcos family has been accused of looting up to US$10 billion (HK$78 billion) in bank deposits, shares, jewelry, art and property before Ferdinand Marcos was ousted by an army-backed popular revolt in 1986.

Decades before hip-hop artists came up with the term "bling bling" to describe gaudy ostentation, Filipinos used the phrase "Imeldific" to describe acts of excess.

Imelda returned to the Philippines in 1991 from exile in Hawaii, where her husband had died in 1989. Once feared, she is now seen by many as an eccentric figure of fun and has run for president and won a term in Congress.

A Manila court found her not guilty of one set of corruption charges last month but she still faces 10 more graft cases and dozens of civil suits over billions of dollars in unexplained wealth amassed during her husband's rule.

She also faces hundreds of cases accusing her of illegally transferring millions of US dollars overseas. -  by KarishmaVyas  REUTERS    2006 November

 


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