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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Marcos wrongly claims family landed ‘with nothing’ when exiled in Hawaii

The Marcos family landed “with nothing” in Hawaii, where they were flown from Malacañan Palace with the ouster of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos
Sr. in 1986.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. 2023-11-18 False

The Marcos family did not go into exile empty-handed. In 1986, the United States Customs Services seized sets of jewelry, appraised in 1991 by Christie’s auction house at $436,420 to $559,630, that the Marcoses brought with them to Honolulu. Known as the Hawaii Collection, this was turned over to the Philippine government in 1992.

Recalling their six-year exile following the 1986 People Power Revolution, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said his family had “nothing” when they arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii where they were flown from Malacañan Palace with the ouster of his father as head of state. This is false.

STATEMENT

In a Nov. 18 meeting during his side trip from the U.S. mainland, Marcos thanked the Filipino and Filipino-American communities in Honolulu who, he said,  “kept (them) alive” during their years in exile. Then, he recalled: 

We landed here in Honolulu with nothing, with nothing. My family was flown from Malacañan Palace to Hickam Air Force Base and when we finally move[d] to Makiki Heights. Kayong lahat, nakikita ko kayo nandoon kayong lahat. I know – they were always there. We had nothing with us. They kept everything to inspect everything.

 

(We landed here in Honolulu with nothing, with nothing. My family was flown from Malacañan Palace to Hickam Air Force Base and when we finally move[d] to Makiki Heights. All of you, I saw that you all were there, I know – they were always there. We had nothing with us. They kept everything to inspect everything.)

Source: RTVMalacañang, Meeting with the Filipino Community in Hawaii (Speech) 11/18/2023, Nov. 18, 2023, watch from 2:38 to 3:07

FACT

The Marcos family did not go into exile empty-handed. In 1986, the United States Customs Services seized sets of jewelry, appraised in 1991 by Christie’s auction house at $436,420 to $559,630, that the Marcoses brought with them to Honolulu. Known as the Hawaii Collection, this was turned over to the Philippine government in 1992. 

VERA Files Fact Check: The Marcos family did not go into exile empty-handed. In 1986, the U.S. Customs Services seized sets of jewelry, valued in 1991 at $436,420 to $559,630, that the Marcoses brought with them to Honolulu.The Marcoses also brought with them over P397-million worth of bank certificates, now considered as ill-gotten wealth following a 2021 Sandiganbayan decision ordering the return of these bank deposits to the Philippine government.

Multiple reports have also noted that the Marcoses brought 22 crates of cash, freshly printed Philippine notes valued at P27 million, 24 gold bricks and over 400 pieces of jewelry, among other things, to Honolulu.

BACKSTORY

Former first lady Imelda Marcos gave up ownership of the confiscated sets of jewelry known as the Hawaii Collection and all items her family brought to Honolulu to the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) in a settlement agreement on Oct. 15, 1991. This was in exchange for the withdrawal of some cases against the family. 

Former president Corazon Aquino created the PCGG three days after the fall of the late dictator Marcos Sr. The agency is mandated to recover the ill-gotten wealth that the Marcos family, their relatives, subordinates and close associates had accumulated in the Philippines and abroad. 

(Read VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Claims that Marcos cases and ill-gotten wealth are fiction are FALSE

In 2022, the PCGG reported a total of P265-billion cash and assets recovered from 1986 to December 2021.

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Sources

Supreme Court of the Philippines E-Library, G.R. No. 213027, Jan. 18, 2017

Official Gazette of the Philippines, PCGG 28 Years Later, Feb. 2, 2014

Ombudsman of the Philippines, Civil Case No. 0181, Sept. 24, 2021

Reuters, How Marcos could control hunt for his family’s wealth as Philippines president, May 3, 2022

The Guardian, The $10bn question: what happened to the Marcos millions?, May 7, 2016

GMA News Online, What Marcoses brought to Hawaii after fleeing PHL in ’86: $717-M in cash, $124-M in deposit slips, Feb. 25, 2016

PCGG, 2012 Annual Report, August 2013

The Los Angeles Times, Marcos Gives Up Millions in Cash, Jewels to Settle Philippine Suit, Nov. 5, 1991

ABS-CBN News, Imelda handed over Hawaii jewels in 1991: documents, July 16, 2009

Official Gazette of the Philippines, Executive Order No. 1, s. 1986, Feb. 28, 1986

PCGG, ​​Mandate, Accessed Nov. 22, 2023

PCGG, Coffee Table Book 2022, Accessed Nov. 22, 2023

(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.)