VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Court rulings against the Marcoses belie claims they had no ill-gotten wealth

Netizens on Facebook (FB) revived a five-year-old post claiming that none of the cases filed against former dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and his family proved they stole from the country’s treasury. This is false.

The erroneous November 2016 post by the page OFW Family questioned a statement displayed on a protest banner held by a woman: “ISOLI MO NINAKAW NYO.” (Return what you have stolen). It was from a Manila Bulletin photo of a protest action against the controversial burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Cemetery of Heroes) that same month.

A reader asked VERA Files Fact Check to look into the post’s claim that of all the ill-gotten wealth cases filed against the Marcoses, “not one” proved the family’s graft practices.

Prior to the post’s publication, there were at least two Supreme Court (SC) decisions confirming the thievery of the Marcoses.

In 2003, the SC ordered the transfer of more than $658 million from the Marcoses’ Swiss bank accounts to the Philippine government.

In 2012, the High Court affirmed a decision by anti-graft court Sandiganbayan which sought the forfeiture of assets, properties, and funds worth $3.3 million previously owned by a certain “Arelma, Inc.,” which was identified to be one of Marcos’ dummy corporations.

After 2016, one more SC ruling and three Sandiganbayan verdicts were added to the list of court cases upholding the existence of the Marcoses’ ill-acquired wealth.

In 2017, the SC affirmed another Sandiganbayan judgment and resolution from 2014 forfeiting Imelda Marcos’ ill-gotten jewelries known as the “Malacañang Collection.”

A year later, the former first lady was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt in seven criminal cases and was sentenced to prison time of 42 to 77 years — none of which she had served.

The next year, the Sandiganbayan once again directed the forfeiture of over $24.3 million worth of “paintings and artworks” in the Marcoses’ possession that were found to be ill-gotten.

And just last Sept. 24, the anti-graft court ordered Royal Tradings Holding Co., Inc. to return to the Philippine government bank deposits amounting to P96 million and $5.4 million, with a 12% annual interest. The decision ruled that these were “ill-gotten funds” the bank received from Marcos and his associates from 1974 to 1986.

This case was another win for the Presidential Commission on Good Government, which was established in 1986 for the very purpose of recovering the government resources illegally amassed by the late dictator and his cronies. As of December 2020, the commission has retrieved more than P174 billion-worth of assets.

The false FB post recirculated on social media just a day after “The UniTeam Alliance’was announced. It will be supporting Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. ‘s bid for the presidency and presidential daughter Sara Duterte’s vice presidential run in next year’s polls.

The coalition is made up of Marcos’ political party Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago, former president and Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada’s Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino, and ex-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats.

The FB post already has 95,000 reactions, 52,000 comments, and 93,000 shares, and could have reached 5.2 million netizens, according to social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle. Its top traffic generators are OFW Family itself, and public groups Marcos Parin Movement Isabela and Nyt lumenda music.

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(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)