VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Imelda Marcos ‘quote’ denying family had stolen MISLEADS

A video post carrying a statement supposedly made by former first lady Imelda Marcos denying she and her family were thieves, and where she said they were the ones who were stolen from, is circulating on Facebook (FB). The quote is inaccurate, and the claim needs context.

On Aug. 29, pro-Marcos FB page BBM Pilipinas 2022 revived a 2017 report from the GMA News show State of the Nation about the wealth of the Marcoses. Below a copy of the video was a quote attributed to the wife of the late dictator Ferdinand: “Hindi kami magnanakaw bagkus kami ang ninakawan (We are not thieves, instead, we were robbed).”

This quote is an embellished version of Mrs. Marcos’ actual remark. GMA’s report featured a 2013 interview with Marcos as she showed news anchor Mel Tiangco around a room full of documents that the former first couple used in a trial in New York, where they were charged—and acquitted—of racketeering and fraud.

Marcos said: “We are tied, our hands, with the whole press saying we are magnanakaw (thieves). We are the magnanakaw? Kami ang ninanakawan (We’re being stolen from).”

In the comment section of the FB post, netizens agreed with the claim that the Marcoses were not thieves. A top comment, translated from Filipino, read: “That is the truth… They were stolen from. And if not for FB and YouTube, the yellows would have twisted the minds of the citizenry.”

But while the Marcoses were acquitted in the 1990 New York case, they were found guilty of amassing ill-gotten wealth in several other instances.

The Sandiganbayan in 2018 ruled that Marcos was guilty of creating seven private organizations in Switzerland, while sitting in public office during the Martial Law era, to funnel illegally-amassed government funds. The court ruled that money channeled to the foundations was used “for the private benefit of the Marcos family as beneficiaries.”

Records and documents from the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) show that the late dictator and his wife used the pseudonyms William Saunders and Jane Ryan in the late 1960s to create bank accounts in Switzerland for hiding money obtained from kickbacks and government contracts.

The PCGG has estimated that the Marcoses stole around US$5 to 10 billion, a feat recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “greatest robbery of a government.”

Marcos also faced other charges of corruption and malversation in local and international courts over the years. She was acquitted in some, while others were dismissed.

The FB page’s misleading post has over 8,800 interactions and 88,000 views, as of Sept. 7. Social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle reports it could have reached 1.44 million people; and its top generators include FB page Bongbong Marcos 2022 and FB group MARCOS PA RIN.

It was published three days after Imelda’s daughter, Sen. Imee Marcos, said on Aug. 26 that her younger brother, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., is considering running for the presidency in 2022.

BBM Pilipinas 2022 was created in February 2021.

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