VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Post on 'revised history books' against Marcoses carries FALSE claims

Several Facebook (FB) pages and groups shared a post carrying several false claims that history books were rewritten since 1986 to demonize the Marcos family and praise their nemeses, the Aquino clan.

Part of the post uploaded by FB page Batang Marcos on Sept. 21, read: “1986 nung simulang palitan ang mga aklat. Kaya hanggang ngayon yung maling akala at pabor sa mga Aquino lang nababasa ng mga kabataan (It was in 1986 when books were [revised]. So up to now the youth only read about wrong perceptions [against the Marcoses] and those that favor the Aquinos).”

Historians tell otherwise, as the Marcoses have a history of commissioning books with their own version of their story about former dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and his 21-year-old martial law rule.

VERA Files Fact Check debunks and contextualizes five of the 52 claims in the FB post:

On the peso-dollar exchange rates during Marcos’ term

Claim

Rating

The Philippine peso exchange rate during Marcos’ term from 1965 to 1985 was P2.00 to US$1.00.

False

Not true. Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) shows that the country never achieved that exchange rate when Marcos ruled the country. According to BSP records, the Philippine peso was valued as P2.00 against the dollar from 1945 to 1959, for a total of 14 years, before Marcos came to power.

When Marcos was first elected to the presidency in 1965, one U.S. dollar was equivalent to 3.90 Philippine pesos on average. By 1982, the peso was at P8.54 to the dollar.

In 1984, the government worked out an economic recovery program with the International Monetary Fund that paved the way for a $650 million standby credit. This led to the devaluation of the peso against the US dollar.

BSP data shows the peso was P16.70 to a dollar in 1984, dropping to P18.60 the next year.

On the Cory Aquino era’s economic performance

Claim

Rating

The Philippine economy dropped during Corazon Aquino’s term

Needs Context

While the economy did drop during the Aquino administration, the economic downfall during the Marcos administration was three times worse, according to the World Bank’s data on gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, which measures a country’s average income divided by its population.

When Aquino was still president in 1991, the country’s average GDP per capita dropped to -3.02%. But World Bank data also shows that in the last years of the Marcos presidency, the GDP per capita dropped to -9.84% and -9.81% in 1984 and 1985, respectively.

The country did have a growing GDP per capita from 1965 to 1983, but the economic decline soon after led economists to argue that the country lost two decades of development during the Marcos regime.


On the KADIWA retail store system

Claim

Rating

The KADIWA group that handed out food during the Marcos administration eradicated hunger among the poor

Needs context

Established in 1981, the Kadiwa program was a network of government-operated retail stores deployed in urban and depressed areas to combat high prices of basic commodities due to inflation. But academic studies show it did not have a good reception nor help the poor. [See Marcos propaganda in a time of plague]

Kadiwa, which was managed by Food Terminal Inc. under the National Food Authority headed by former first lady Imelda Marcos, offered commodities such as rice, sugar, cooking oil, meat, and vegetables at prices lower than market price.

But a 1984 Philippine Planning Journal article revealed that people were discouraged by the long queues, the distance of the Kadiwa centers, and irritable service personnel. Limited finances also hindered poor families from buying items from the government-subsidized stores.

In a 1986 Asian Journal of Public Administration article, researcher Jürgen Rüland argued that given the allocations allotted for the Kadiwa program, as well as a preceding 1979 “rolling stores” project, the “effect on the living conditions of the poor was virtually nil.”

Backing up his statement, Ruland said the Marcos government spent 18 million pesos in both projects to reach 247,000 families in 542 depressed areas. It meant that the government allocated 24,658 pesos per day or 0.10 pesos per family per day.

On the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant closure

Claim

Rating

Former president Corazon Aquino shut down the BNPP due to health hazards

Needs context


Nuclear power plants can cause accidents that pose significant health risks such as cancer and radiation sickness. But it was not the official reason why the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) was mothballed by Aquino. [See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Gadon’s claim on reason of Cory Aquino for stopping BNPP operation FALSE]

In 1986, Aquino’s Executive Order 55 said the Philippine government decided not to operate the BNPP “for reasons of safety and economy.”

A 1979 commission report by former Minister of Justice Ricardo Puno concluded that the BNPP was plagued by ''unresolved safety issues” that could be “a potential hazard to the health and safety of the public.”

When Marcos was ousted, the BNPP cost US$2.1 billion, of which US$1.2 billion still had to be paid for by the national government. Full payment of this debt was completed in 2007.

On Marcos’ war WWII medals from the U.S.

Claim

Rating

Ferdinand Marcos was awarded by the Americans for fighting the Japanese during World War II

False

While Marcos did serve as a major in the 14th Infantry Regiment during World War II, both the U.S. government and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines debunked his claims about receiving three medals from the Americans.

Marcos, in his authorized biographies, claimed that he received the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Order of the Purple Heart in 1945, and that he was recommended for the Medal of Honor. But his name could not be found in any of the official websites for these military distinctions.

Filipino war historian Ricardo Jose argued that Marcos could not have received the DSC from Gen. Douglas McArthur, nor could he have been awarded for allegedly delaying the Japanese invasion of Bataan by three months, according to a 2016 NHCP study.

A 1983 The Washington Post article reported that the Department of the Army’s congressional liaison office confirmed that Marcos was never awarded a Silver Star. Neither could any independent corroboration confirm that he was recommended for the Medal of Honor.

The post by FB page Batang Marcos, which emerged on the 49th anniversary of the Martial Law, got 4,200 reactions, 331 comments, and 2,200 shares. Other pages that reuploaded the post include The Unbeatable Loyalists, Sa Ngalan ng Gobyerno, and Lipadmarcos.

FB page Blessed be Philippines first uploaded the post on Sept. 15, 2019.

Batang Marcos was founded in October 2016, The Unbeatable Loyalists in April 2016, Sa Ngalan ng Gobyerno in June 2011, and Lipadmarcos in August 2019.


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

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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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