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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Imee Marcos’ claim that family suffered in exile for 36 years is FALSE

The Marcos family suffered in exile for 36 years when [they] couldn’t come home” to the Philippines.

Imee Marcos 2024-02-01 False

The Marcoses lived in exile for just five, not 36 years. In August 1991, then-president Corazon Aquino allowed their return to the Philippines to face multiple 60 criminal and civil charges, including graft and tax evasion. Since their return to the country later that year, former first lady Imelda Marcos and her children Imee and Bongbong have held elective positions in both national and local levels

Sen. Imee Marcos has claimed that her family, who fled to Hawaii during the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, were thrown into exile for 36 years “when [they] couldn’t come home” to the Philippines.

This is false.

STATEMENT

In an interview with anchor Karen Davila on ANC’s Headstart program, Marcos expressed her frustration over the conflicts happening within the UniTeam alliance. She said:

“As I’ve said many times, we are the most fortunate family on earth, with the grace and blessing of a second chance, a second chance that was very, very hard fought over 36 years. 36 years of exile when you couldn’t come home. 36 years na, sabihin ko na, napakahirap hindi ko naman pinag-uusapan, natapon kami kung saan-saang dulo ng daigdig. Napakahirap no’n, eh. Ipinaglaban namin ‘to, eh. And yet, here we are, hulog ng langit po. Binigay ng Panginoon, a second chance – perhaps the last chance – for my family to once again redeem itself.”

Source: ANC 24/7, Headstart: PH Senator Imee Marcos on people’s initiative for cha-cha, Duterte tirades vs Marcos, Feb. 1, 2024, watch from 5:33 to 6:14

FACT

The Marcoses lived in exile for just five, not 36, years. 

VERA Files Fact Check: The Marcoses lived in exile for just five, not 36, years.

In August 1991, then-president Corazon Aquino allowed their return to the Philippines, with the intention of bringing Imelda Marcos to trial for more than 60 criminal and civil charges, including graft and tax evasion. 

Following their return to the country 33 years ago, the former first lady and her children Imee and Ferdinand Jr. found their way back to the center stage of Philippine politics. 

They have held elective positions at both local and national levels. Youngest daughter Irene Marcos-Araneta stayed in the background and did not seek elective posts. 

BACKSTORY

The deposed president Ferdinand Marcos Sr. died while in exile in Honolulu in September 1989. His remains were transported to the Philippines on Sept. 7, 1993. 

Imee was reported to have fled to Morocco, allegedly with a fake Bolivian passport, with her then-partner Tommy Manotoc, shortly after settling down in their Hawaii exile. 

(Read When Imee fled with a fake Bolivian passport)

Imelda arrived in the Philippines on Nov. 4, 1991. She sought the presidency twice in 1992 and 1998 but lost in both elections. In 1995, she won the congressional seat for the first district of Leyte, and later, in the 2010, 2013, and 2016 elections, she represented the first district of Ilocos Norte at the House of Representatives. Although initially planning to run for governor of Ilocos Norte in 2019, she withdrew from the race following her conviction on graft charges in 2018.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who won the 2022 presidential elections, arrived a few days ahead of Imelda, on Oct. 31, 1991. Following his return, he was elected congressman of the second district of Ilocos Norte twice, from 1992 to 1995 and 2007 to 2010. Having previously served as governor of Ilocos Norte from 1983 to 1986, he successfully ran again in 1998, completing three consecutive terms until 2007. Before winning the presidency, he won a seat in the Senate in 2013 but lost in the 2016 vice presidential race.

Before securing a seat in the Senate in 2019, Imee Marcos served as congresswoman of the second district of Ilocos Norte for three consecutive terms from 1998 to 2007. She also held three consecutive terms as governor of Ilocos Norte from 2010 to 2019.

 Following directives from then-president Rodrigo Duterte which resulted in a Supreme Court decision in their favor, the ousted president’s remains were airlifted from the Marcos family mausoleum in Batac, Ilocos Norte to the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on Nov. 18, 2016 where he was buried with military honors despite public protests. 

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Sources

On the Marcoses’ return to the Philippines

Government positions held by the Marcoses 

On Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s burial

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)