Marcos graduated cum laude with a law degree from the U.P. College of Law in 1939 and was elected to the Pi Gamma Mu international honor society. As a young law student of the University of the Philippines, Marcos was indicted and convicted of the murder of Julio Nalundasan, the man who twice defeated his father for a National Assembly seat. While in detention, he studied for and passed the bar examination with one of the highest scores in history. He appealed his conviction and argued his case before the Supreme Court of the Philippines. His father, who had an important voice due to his political position, coerced the Supreme Court to acquit him of the charges.
When the Second World War broke out, Marcos was called to arms in defense of the Philippines against the Japanese. He was a combat intelligence officer 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 being defeated. He was released later. Though he was captured once more at Fort Santiago, he escaped and joined the guerrilla movements against the Japanese. He claimed to have been one of the guerrilla leaders in Luzon and that his greatest exploit was the Battle of Besang Pass, though the veracity of his claims had been widely questioned. However, genuine photos taken right after the war showed 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.
President Diosdado Macapagal, who had promised not to run for reelection in 1965 to support Marcos’ candidacy for the presidency, went back on this promise, causing Marcos to resign from the Liberal Party. With the support of his wife Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, he joined the Nacionalista Party and became its standard-bearer with Senator Fernando Lopez as his running mate.
…The Filipino, it seems, has lost his soul, his dignity, and his courage. We have come upon a phase of our history when ideals are only a veneer for greed and power, (in public and private affairs) when devotion to duty and dedication to a public trust are to be weighted at all times against private advantages and personal gain, and when loyalties can be traded. …Our government is in the iron grip of venality, its treasury is barren, its resources are wasted, its civil service is slothful and indifferent, its armed forces demoralized and its councils sterile., We are in crisis. You know that the government treasury is empty. Only by severe self-denial will there be hope for recovery within the next year.
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 includes 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), 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.
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; rising tide of criminality and subversion by the re-organized Communist movement; and secessionism in the South.
Economic situation - Overspending in the 1969 elections led to higher inflation and the devaluation of the Philippine peso. 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. In addition, the frequent visits of 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 some laborers and students. The Metropolitan Command (Metrocom) of the Philippine Constabulary (PC) repulsed them, pushing them towards 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.
General Order No. 2 – The President directed the Secretary of National Defense to arrest or cause the arrest and take into his custody the individuals named in the attached list and to hold them until otherwise so ordered by the President or by his duly designated representative, as well as to arrest or cause the arrest and take into his custody and to hold them otherwise ordered released by him or by his duly authorized representative such persons who may have committed crimes described in the Order.
General Order No.3 – The President ordered that all executive departments, bureaus, offices, agencies and instrumentalities of the National Government, government owned or controlled corporations, as well all governments of all the provinces, cities, municipalities and barrios should continue to function under their present officers and employees, until otherwise ordered by the President or by his duly designated representatives. The President further ordered that the Judiciary should continue to function in accordance with its present organization and personnel, and should try to decide in accordance with existing laws all criminal and civil cases, except certain cases enumerated in the Order.
General Order No. 4 – The President ordered that a curfew be maintained and enforced throughout the Philippines from twelve o’clock midnight until four o’clock in the morning.
General Order No. 5 – All rallies, demonstrations and other forms of group actions including strikes and picketing in vital industries such as in companies engaged in manufacture or processing as well as in production or processing of essential commodities or products for exports, and in companies engaged in banking of any kind, as well as in hospitals and in schools and colleges are prohibited.
General Order No. 6 – No person shall keep, possess or carry outside of his residence any firearm unless such person is duly authorized to keep, possess or carry any such Philippines except to those who are being sent abroad in the service of the Philippines.
The 1976 Amendments were: an Interim Batasang Pambansa (IBP) substituting for the Interim National Assembly, the President would also become the Prime Minister and he would continue to exercise legislative powers until martial law should have been lifted. The Sixth Amendment authorized the President to legislate:
Whenever in the judgment of the President there exists a grave emergency or a threat or imminence thereof, or whenever the Interim Batasang Pambansa or the regular National Assembly fails or is unable to act adequately on any matter for any reason that in his judgment requires immediate action, he may, in order to meet the exigency, issue the necessary decrees, orders or letters of instructions, which shall form part of the law of the land.
In an almost one-sided election, President Marcos won an overwhelming 88% of the votes, the highest in Philippine electoral history. The Nacionalista candidate Alejo Santos garnered only 8.6% of the votes and Cabangbang obtained less than 3%.
On June 30, 1981, President Marcos was inaugurated in grandiose ceremonies and proclaimed the “birth of a new Republic.” The new Republic lasted only for less than five years. Economic and political crises led to its demise.
After three years of exile in the United States, Aquino decided to return. The First Lady tried to dissuade him but in vain. On August 21, 1983, former Senator Aquino returned to the Philippines. He was shot dead at the tarmac of the Manila International Airport while in the custody of the Aviation Security Command (AVSECOM). About two million people attended the funeral of the late senator from Sto. Domingo Church to Manila Memorial Park. Meanwhile, President Marcos immediately created a fact-finding commission, headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Enrique Fernando, to investigate the Aquino assassination. However, the commission lasted only in two sittings due to intense public criticism. President Marcos issued on October 14, 1983, Presidential Decree No. 1886 creating an independent board of inquiry. The board was composed of former Court of Appeals Justice Ma. Corazon J. Agrava as chairman, Amando Dizon, Luciano Salazar, Dante Santos and Ernesto Herrera.
The Agrava Fact-Finding Board convened on November 3, 1983. But, before it could start its work. President Marcos charged the communists for the killing of Senator Aquino: “The decision to eliminate the former Senator, Marcos claimed, was made by none other than the general-secretary of the Philippine Communist Party, Rodolfo Salas. He was referring to his earlier claim that Aquino had befriended and subsequently betrayed his communist comrades. “ The Agrava Board conducted public hearings, and invited several persons who might shed light on the crimes, including AFP Chief of Staff Fabian Ver and First Lady Imelda R. Marcos. After a year of thorough investigation – with 20,000 pages of testimony given by 193 witnesses, the Agrava Board submitted two reports to President Marcos – the Majority and Minority Reports. The Minority Report, submitted by Chairman Agrava alone, was submitted on October 23, 1984. It confirmed that the Aquino assassination was a military conspiracy but it cleared Gen. Ver. Many believed that President Marcos intimidated and pressured the members of the Board to persuade them not to indict Ver, Marcos’ first cousin and most trusted general. Excluding Chairman Agrava, the majority of the board submitted a separate report – the Majority Report – indicting several members of the Armed Forces including AFP Chief-of-Staff Gen. Fabian Ver, Gen. Luther Custodio and Gen. Prospero Olivas, head of AVSECOM. Later, the 25 military personnel, including several generals and colonels, and one civilian were charged for the murder of Senator Aquino. President Marcos relieved Ver as AFP Chief and appointed his second-cousin, Gen. Fidel V. Ramos as acting AFP Chief. After a brief trial, the Sandiganbayan acquitted all the accused on December 2, 1985. Immediately after the decision, Marcos re-instated Ver. The Sandiganbayan ruling and the reinstatement of Ver were denounced by several sectors as a “mockery” of justice.
They cited the San Jose Mercury News exposé of the Marcoses’ multi-million dollar investment and property holdings in the United States. The properties allegedly amassed by the First Family were the Crown Building, Lindenmere Estate, and a number of residential apartments (in New Jersey and New York), a shopping center in New York, mansions (in London, Rome and Honolulu), the Helen Knudsen Estate in Hawaii and three condominiums in San Francisco, California.
The Assemblymen also included in the complaint the misuse and misapplication of funds “for the construction of the Film Center, where X-rated and pornographic films are exhibited, contrary to public morals and Filipino customs and traditions.”
The following day, the Committee on Justice, Human Rights and Good Government dismissed the impeachment complain for being insufficient in form and substance:
The resolution is no more than a hodge-podge of unsupported conclusions, distortion of law, exacerbated by ultra partisan considerations. It does not allege ultimate facts constituting an impeachable offense under the Constitution. In sum, the Committee finds that the complaint is not sufficient in form and substance to warrant its further consideration. It is not sufficient in form because the verification made by the affiants that the allegations in the resolution “are true and correct of our own knowledge” is transparently false. It taxes the ken of men to believe that the affiants individually could swear to the truth of allegations, relative to the transactions that allegedly transpired in foreign countries given the barrier of geography and the restrictions of their laws. More important, the resolution cannot be sufficient in substance because its careful assay shows that it is a mere charade of conclusions.
|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|
According to Marcos' 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' 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. In the end, some of Marcos' cronies used them as 'cash cows'. "Crony capitalism" was the term used to describe this phenomenon. This phenomenon was intended to have genuinely nationalistic motives by redistributing monopolies that were traditionally owned by Chinese and Mestizo oligarchs to Filipino businessmen. In practice, it led to graft and corruption via bribery, racketeering, and embezzlement. By waging an ideological war against the oligarchy, Marcos gained the support of the masses. 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 doing this, Marcos abolished the old oligarchy, only to create a new one in its place. Marcos, now free from day-to-day governance (which was left mostly to Enrile), also used his power to settle old scores against old rivals, such as the Lopezes, who were always opposed to the Marcos administration. Leading oppositionists 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. The rest of the world was surprised at how the Filipinos accepted his self-imposed dictatorship. Soon after Marcos declared martial law, one American high-ranking 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. The country would enjoy economic prosperity throughout the 1970s in the midst of growing dissent to his strong-willed rule towards the end of martial law. Political opponents were given the opportunity 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' 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' closest advisors until he was ousted in 1986. Enrile and Ramos would later abandon Marcos' '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.
Economic growth was largely financed, however, by U.S. economic aid and several loans made by the Marcos government. The country's foreign debts were less than US$1billion when Marcos assumed the presidency in 1965, and more than US$28billion when he left office in 1986. A sizable amount of these moneys 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 outlayed 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, Singapore and Hong Kong. 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 Fund (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 beginning in 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 by Marcos' 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.
During these years, his 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 Philippine government today is still paying interest on more than US$28 billion in public debts incurred during his 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; in addition, certificates for gold bullion valued in the billions of dollars are allegedly among the personal properties he, his family, his cronies and business partners had surreptitiously taken with them when the Reagan administration provided them safe passage to Hawaii.
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—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 General Fabian 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 States, which had provided hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, was crucial in buttressing Marcos' 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 1981 Vice President George Bush seemed to signal a different approach when in his visit to Manila he told Marcos, "We love your adherence to democratic principles and to democratic processes."
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 to Aquino 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, having been charged 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. Marcos' wife was found to have over 2500 pairs of shoes in her closet.
The Marcos family and their associates went into exile in Hawaii and were later indicted for embezzlement in the United States. Marcos died in Honolulu on September 28, 1989 of kidney, heart and lung ailments. He was interred in a private mausoleum at Byodo-In Temple 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 Norte, where his son, Ferdinand, Jr., and eldest daughter, Imee, have since become the local governor and representative, respectively. A Mount Rushmore-esque bust of Ferdinand Marcos, commissioned by Tourism Minister Jose Aspiras, was 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 is still facing a few hundred additional graft charges in Philippine courts in 2006. Grand-nephew Mark Wayne Penaflorida is a lead healthcare reformer in the state of California.
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 Court (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 inter¬pleader 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). While military historian Alfred McCoy in his book "Closer than Brothers: Manhood at the Philippine Military Academy" and in his speech "Dark Legacy" cite 3,257 extrajudicial killings, 35,000 torture victims, and 70,000 incarcerated during the Marcos years. The newspaper "Bulatlat"(lit. to open carelessly) place the number of victims of arbitrary arrest and detention at 120,000.
His practice of using the politics of patronage in his desire to be the "apo" or godfather of not just the people, but the judiciary, legislature 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 legislative, 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 US$684 million 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), manufacturing (under Herminio Disini and Ricardo Silverio), and sugar (under Roberto Benedicto). 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, real estate properties in New York, California and Hawaii. It was no exaggeration when Imelda Marcos declared in an interview, that her family "own practically everything in the Philippines. The Aquino government also accused them of skimming off foreign aid and international assistance. This is a clear example of the aforementioned "crony capitalism" that Marcos introduced during the New Society.
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 China 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 martial law 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' regime was crucial in the United States' fight against communism and its influences, with Marcos himself being a staunch anti-communist. Marcos however had an ironically mild streak to his "strongman" image, and as much as possible avoided bloodshed and confrontation.
His most ardent supporters claim Marcos was serious about martial law and 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 do something about it. 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' 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’ 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 second most corrupt head of government ever, after Suharto. Even so, according to a recent survey, some Filipinos prefer Marcos' rule due to the shape of the country in administrations succeeding his. Many admire his autocratic, strong-arm rule, saying that his style of leadership is sorely missed and needed in the post-EDSA Philippines where too much democracy has ruined the body politic, with fractious standoffs in Congress, endless so-called "People Power" demonstrations, deadlocks in the Senate and movie actors as well as traditional politicians being elected into public office, as well as uneducated masses being easily manipulated to vote for famous individuals or corrupt patronage candidates. A few are nostalgic for the Marcos era, where the government was well-organized and laws were strictly followed by civilians, leading to a relatively disciplined populace.
On the other hand, many despise his regime, his silencing the free press, his curtailing of civil liberties such as the right to peaceably assemble, his dictatorial control, the imprisonment, torture, murder and disappearance of thousands of his oppositionists, and his supposed shameless plunder of the nation's treasury. It is quite evident that the People Power Revolution left the Philippine society polarized. Nostalgia remains high in parts of the populace for the Marcos era due to the downward spiral the Philippines fell into after his departure. It can be said that his public image has been significantly rehabilitated after worsening political and economic problems that have hounded his successors. The irony is that these economic troubles are largely due to the country's massive debts incurred during his administration. The Marcos Era's legacy, polarizing as it is, remains deeply embedded in the Philippines today.