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His Excellency
Ferdinand Marcos
Marcos in 1982.
10 President of the Philippines

In office
December 30, 1965 – February 25, 1986
Prime Minister Himself (1978–1981)
Cesar Virata (1981–1986)
Vice President Fernando López (1965–1973)
Arturo Tolentino (Feb 16–25, 1986)
Preceded by Diosdado Macapagal
Succeeded by Corazon Aquino
3rd Prime Minister of the Philippines

In office
June 12, 1978 – June 30, 1981
Preceded by Office established
(Position previously held by Jorge B. Vargas)
Succeeded by Cesar Virata
Secretary of National Defense

In office
August 28, 1971 – January 3, 1972
President Himself
Preceded by Juan Ponce Enrile
Succeeded by Juan Ponce Enrile

In office
December 31, 1965 – January 20, 1967
President Himself
Preceded by Macario Peralta
Succeeded by Ernesto Mata
11th President of the Senate of the Philippines

In office
April 5, 1963 – December 30, 1965
President Diosdado Macapagal
Preceded by Eulogio Rodriguez
Succeeded by Arturo Tolentino
Senator of the Philippines

In office
December 30, 1959 – December 30, 1965
Member of the Philippine House of Representatives from Ilocos Norte's Second District

In office
December 30, 1949 – December 30, 1959
Preceded by Pedro Albano
Succeeded by Simeon M. Valdez
Personal details
Born Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos[1]
(1917-09-11)September 11, 1917
Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, Philippines
Died September 28, 1989(1989-09-28) (aged 72)
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Resting place Marcos Museum and Mausoleum, Batac, Ilocos Norte, Philippines
Political party Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (1978–1989)
Other political
Liberal Party (1946–1965)
Nacionalista Party (1965–1978)
Spouse(s) Imelda Romuáldez (1954–1989)
Children Ma. Imelda Marcos
Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
Irene Marcos-Araneta
Alma mater University of the Philippines College of Law
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholicism, formerly Iglesia Filipina Independiente
Military service
Allegiance  Commonwealth of the Philippines
Rank Major
Battles/wars World War II

Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos, Sr. (September 11, 1917 – September 28, 1989) was President of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. He was a lawyer, member of the Philippine House of Representatives (1949–1959) and member of the Philippine Senate (1959–1965). He was Senate President from 1963–1965.

In 1983, his government was accused of being involved in the assassination of his primary political opponent, Benigno Aquino, Jr. Public outrage over the assassination served as the catalyst for the People Power Revolution in February 1986 that led to his removal from power and eventual exile in Hawaii. It was later discovered that during his 20-year rule, he and his wife Imelda Marcos had moved billions of dollars of embezzled public funds to accounts and investments in the United States, Switzerland, and other countries.

Early life

Ferdinand Edralin Marcos was born 11 September 1917, in the town of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte to Mariano Marcos and Josefa Edralin.[2] He was baptized into the Philippine Independent Church.[3] According to the family's oral history, the original surname was Quidit, and their Ilokano stock had some Han Chinese and Japanese admixture.[citation needed] Marcos once claimed that one of his forefathers was a "15th century Chinese pirate." This pirate is the well-known Limahong or Lin Feng in China. Rumors in the Chinese community claims he is the illegitimate child of Judge Chua to Josefa Edralin. Thereby making him a half-Chinese by blood. It was said Judge Chua made arrangement for the young Josefa who was his secretary to marry with Mariano Marcos.[4]

In December 1938, Ferdinand was prosecuted for the murder of Julio Nalundasan along with his father, Mariano, his brother, Pio, and his brother-in-law Quirino Lizardo; Nalundasan one of the elder Marcos' political rivals. Nalundasan had been shot and killed in his house in Batac on 20 September 1935–the day after he had defeated Mariano Marcos a second time for a seat in the National Assembly. According to two witnesses, the four had conspired to assassinate Nalundasan, with Ferdinand Marcos eventually pulling the trigger. In late January 1939, they were denied bail[5] and in the fall[when?] of 1939 they were convicted. Ferdinand and Lizardo received the death penalty for premeditated murder, while Mariano and Pio were found guilty of contempt of court. The Marcos family took their appeal to the Supreme Court of the Philippines, which overturned the lower court's decision on 22 October 1940, acquitting them of all charges except contempt.[6]

Marcos studied law at the University of the Philippines, attending the prestigious College of Law. He excelled in both curricular and extra-curricular activities, becoming a valuable member of the university's swimming, boxing, and wrestling teams. He was also an accomplished and prolific orator, debater, and writer for the student newspaper. He also became a member of the University of the Philippines ROTC Unit (UP Vanguard Fraternity) where he met his future cabinet members and Armed Forces Chiefs of Staff. He sat for the 1939 Bar Examinations, receiving a near-perfect score and graduating cum laude despite the fact that he was incarcerated while reviewing; had he not been in jail for 27 days, he would have graduated magna cum laude. He was elected to the Pi Gamma Mu and the Phi Kappa Phi international honour societies, the latter giving him its Most Distinguished Member Award 37 years later.[7]

He claimed to have led a 9,000-man guerrilla force called Ang Mahárlika (Tagalog, "The Noble") in northern Luzon during the Second World War, although his account of events was later cast into doubt after a United States military investigation exposed many of his claims as either false or inaccurate.[8]

The gifted child

In Seagrave's book "The Marcos Dynasty", he mentioned that Marcos possessed a phenomenal memory and exhibited this by memorizing complicated texts and reciting forward and backward such as the 1935 Constitution of the Philippines. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, in an interview with the Philippine Star on March 25, 2012, shared her experience as a speech writer to President Marcos: "One time, the Secretary of Justice forgot to tell me that the President had requested him to draft a speech that the President was going to deliver before graduates of the law school. And then, on the day the President was to deliver the speech, he suddenly remembered because Malacañang was asking for the speech, so he said, 'This is an emergency. You just have to produce something.' And I just dictated the speech. He liked long speeches. I think that was 20 or 25 pages. And then, in the evening, I was there, of course. President Marcos recited the speech from memory." [9]

Personal life

He was married to Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, on May 1, 1954 and the marriage produced three children:

  • Maria Imelda "Imee" Marcos (born November 12, 1955) Governor of Ilocos Norte
  • Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. (born September 13, 1957) Senator of the Philippines
  • Irene Marcos (born September 16, 1960)

Congressional career

House of Representatives

When the Philippines was granted independence on July 4, 1946 by the American government, the Philippine Congress was established. Marcos ran and was three times elected as representative of the 2nd district of Ilocos Norte, 1949–1959. He was named chairman of the House Committee on Commerce and Industry and member of the Defense Committee headed by Ramon Magsaysay. He was chairman, House Neophytes Bloc in which (President) Diosdado Macapagal, (Vice President) Emmanuel Pelaez and (Manila Mayor) Arsenio J. Lacson were members. He was also a member of the House Committee on Industry; LP spokesman on economic matters; member, Special Committee on Import and Price Controls and on Reparations; House Committees on Ways and Means, Banks Currency, War Veterans, Civil Service, Corporations and Economic Planning; and the House Electoral Tribunal.[10]


He was the topnotcher in the senatorial elections in 1959. He was Senate minority floor leader, 1960; executive vice president, LP 1954–1961; president, Liberal Party, 1961–1964; Senate President, 1963–1965. During his term as Senate President, former Defense Secretary Eulogio B. Balao was also closely working with Marcos. Marcos led a controversial political career both before and after his term as Senate President. He became Senator after he served as member of the House of Representatives for three terms, then later as Minority Floor Leader before gaining the Senate Presidency. He introduced a number of significant bills, many of which found their way into the Republic statute books.[10]


Presidential styles of
Ferdinand E. Marcos, Sr.
Reference style His Excellency
Spoken style Your Excellency
Alternative style Mr. President

First term (1965–1969)

Presidential campaign

Marcos at the White House in 1966.

Marcos was famous for his anti-Japanese guerrilla activity during World War II—something that set him apart from his political opponents, many of whom had collaborated with the Japanese. Marcos won the presidency in 1965.[11]

Infrastructure programs

The leaders of the SEATO nations in front of the Congress Building in Manila, hosted by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos on October 24, 1966. (L-R:) Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky (South Vietnam), Prime Minister Harold Holt (Australia), President Park Chung-hee (South Korea), President Ferdinand Marcos (Philippines), Prime Minister Keith Holyoake (New Zealand), Lt. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu (South Vietnam), Prime Minister Thanom Kittikachorn (Thailand), President Lyndon B. Johnson (United States)

Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos with Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird on September 12, 1966.

In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), Marcos revealed his plans for economic development and government reform. Marcos wanted the immediate construction of roads, bridges and public works, which included 16,000 kilometers of feeder roads, some 30,000 lineal meters of permanent bridges, a generator with an electric power capacity of one million kilowatts (1,000,000 kW), and water services to eight regions and 38 localities.[citation needed] He also urged the revitalization of the judiciary, the national defense posture and the fight against smuggling, criminality, and graft and corruption in the government.[citation needed]

To accomplish his goals “President Marcos mobilized the manpower and resources of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for action to complement civilian agencies in such activities as infrastructure construction; economic planning and program execution; regional and industrial site planning and development; community development and others.”[12][unreliable source?] The employment of technocrats in key positions and the mobilization of the AFP for civic actions resulted in the increasing functional integration of civilian and military elites.[13][unreliable source?]

Vietnam War

To the surprise of many, soon after becoming president, Marcos wanted the Philippines to become involved in the Vietnam War. He asked Congress to approve sending a combat engineer unit to South Vietnam. When the previous Philippine president, Macapagal, suggested in 1964–1965 to send troops it had been Marcos who had led the opposition against this plan on both legal and moral grounds. Despite opposition against the new plan, the Marcos government gained Congressional approval and Philippine troops were sent from the middle of 1966 as the Philippines Civic Action Group (PHILCAG). PHILCAG reached a strength of some 1,600 troops in 1968 and between 1966 and 1970 over 10,000 Filipino soldiers served in South Vietnam, mainly being involved in civilian infrastructure projects.[14][unreliable source?]

Second term (1969–1981)

1969 presidential election

In 1969, Marcos was reelected for a second term—the first Filipino president to win a second term.[15] The election was marked by massive violence, vote-buying, and fraud on Marcos' part,[16][17] and Marcos used $56 million from the Philippines' treasury to fund his campaign.[18] His running mate, incumbent Vice President Fernando Lopez was also elected to a third full term as Vice President of the Philippines.

Student uprising

In 1970, students in Manila mobilized enormous numbers of people to attend protests against U.S. imperialism and the "rise of fascism" under Marcos. The protests later became known as the First Quarter Storm.[19]

Martial Law and the New Society

Ferdinand Marcos with Secretary of State George Shultz, 1982.

It is easier perhaps and more comfortable to look back to the solace of a familiar and mediocre past. But the times are too grave and the stakes too high for us to permit the customary concessions to traditional democratic processes.
– Ferdinand Marcos, January 1973[20]

In a privilege speech before Senate, Benigno Aquino, Jr. warned the public of the possible establishment of a “garrison state” by President Marcos. Days later, Marcos declared martial law on September 22, 1972, by virtue of Proclamation № 1081 which he signed on September 21, 1972, extending his rule beyond the constitutional two-term limit. He justified this by exaggerating threats of Communist and Muslim insurgencies.[21] He would later tell historians that he signed Proclamation No. 1081 as early as September 17.[4] Ruling by decree, he curtailed press freedom and other civil liberties, closed down Congress and media establishments, and ordered the arrest of opposition leaders and militant activists, including his staunchest critics, senators Benigno Aquino, Jr., Jovito Salonga and Jose Diokno.[22][23] Marcos claimed that martial law was the prelude to creating his Bagong Lipunan, a "New Society" based on new social and political values.[24][citation needed]

A, which had been called for in 1970 to replace the Commonwealth era 1935 Constitution, continued the work of framing a new constitution after the declaration of martial law. The new constitution went into effect in early 1973, changing the form of government from presidential to parliamentary and allowing Marcos to stay in power beyond 1973.[citation needed]

After putting in force amendments to the constitution, legislative action, and securing his sweeping powers and with the Batasan under his control, President Marcos lifted martial law on January 17, 1981. However, the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus continued in the autonomous regions of Western Mindanao and Central Mindanao. The opposition dubbed the lifting of martial law as a mere "face lifting" as a precondition to the visit of Pope John Paul II.[25]

Marcos had a vision of a Bagong Lipunan (New Society) similar to Indonesian president Suharto's "New Order administration". He used the years of martial law to implement this vision. According to Marcos' book, "Notes on the New Society," it was a movement urging the poor and the privileged to work as one for the common goals of society and to achieve the liberation of the Filipino people through self-realization.[citation needed]

Marcos confiscated businesses owned by the oligarchy. More often than not, they were taken over by Marcos' family members and close personal friends, who used them as fronts to launder proceeds from institutionalized graft and corruption in the different national governmental agencies as "crony capitalism," Marcos' friends using them for personal benefit. With genuinely nationalistic motives, crony capitalism was intended to redistribute monopolies traditionally owned by Chinese and Mestizo oligarchs to Filipino businessmen though in practice, it led to graft and corruption via bribery, racketeering, and embezzlement. Marcos also silenced the free press, making the state press the only legal one. He also seized privately owned lands and distributed them to farmers. By waging an ideological war against the oligarchy, Marcos gained the support of the masses though he was to create a new one in its place. Marcos, now free from day-to-day governance which was left mostly to Juan Ponce Enrile using his power to settle scores against old rivals, such as the Lopezes, who were always opposed to the Marcos administration. Leading opponents such as Senators Benigno Aquino, Jr., Jose Diokno, Jovito Salonga and many others were imprisoned for months or years. This practice considerably alienated the support of the old social and economic elite and the media, who criticized the Marcos administration endlessly.[citation needed][26]

Between 1972 and 1976, Marcos increased the size of the Philippine military from 65,000 to 270,000 personnel.[24] Military officers were placed on the boards of a variety of media corporations, public utilities, development projects, and other private corporations. At the same time, Marcos made efforts to foster the growth of a domestic weapons manufacturing industry and heavily increased military spending.[27]

The GNP of the country stood at $11.5 billion by 1980, which represented a 6.6% average annual growth rate. The 1980 GNP was four times greater than the GNP in 1972. Rice production increased from 5.1 million metric tons in 1972 to 7.25 million metric tons in 1980 due to Masagana 99.[28]

From the declaration of martial law in 1972, until 1983, the U.S. government provided $2.5 billion in bilateral military and economic aid to the Marcos regime, and about $5.5 billion through multilateral institutions such as the World Bank.[29]

In a 1979 U.S. Senate report, it was stated that U.S. officials were aware, as early as 1973, that Philippine government agents were in the United States to harass Filipino dissidents. In June 1981, two anti-Marcos labor activists were assassinated outside of a union hall in Seattle. On at least one occasion, CIA agents blocked FBI investigations of Philippine agents.[30]

The Marcos regime instituted a mandatory youth organization, known as the Kabataang Barangay, which was led by Marcos' eldest daughter Imee. Presidential Decree 684, enacted in April 1975, required that all youths aged 15 to 18 be sent to remote rural camps, where they underwent a ritualistic program designed to instill loyalty to the First Couple.[31][32]

Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, Chief of Staff of the Philippine Constabulary Fidel Ramos, and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Fabian Ver were the chief administrators of martial law from 1972 to 1981, and the three remained President Marcos' closest advisers until he was ousted in 1986. Enrile and Ramos would later abandon Marcos' 'sinking ship' and seek protection behind the 1986 People Power Revolution. The Catholic hierarchy and Manila's middle class were crucial to the success of the massive crusade.[citation needed]


President Ferdinand Marcos December 30, 1965 – 1978
Vice-President Fernando Lopez December 30, 1965 – September 23, 1972
Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources Fernando Lopez 1965–1971
Arturo Tanco, Jr. 1971–1978
Secretary of Education, Culture and Sports Carlos P. Romulo December 30, 1965 – December 16, 1967
Onofre Corpuz December 17, 1967 – April 20, 1971
Juan Manuel April 21, 1971 –
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Narciso Ramos 1965–1968
Carlos P. Romulo 1968–1978
Secretary of Finance Juan Ponce Enrile 1966–1968
Eduardo Romualdez 1968–1970
Cesar Virata 1970–1978
Secretary of Justice Jose Yulo 1965–1967
Claudio Teehankee 1967–1968
Juan Ponce Enrile 1968–1970
Felix Makasiar 1970
Vicente Abad Santos 1970–1978
Secretary of National Defense Ferdinand Marcos
(in concurrent capacity as President)
Ernesto Mata 1967–1970
Juan Ponce Enrile 1970–1971
Ferdinand Marcos
(in concurrent capacity as President)
Juan Ponce Enrile 1972–1978
Secretary of Commerce and Industry Marcelo Balatbat 1966–1968
Leonides Sarao Virata 1969–1970
Ernesto Maceda 1970–1971
Troadio Quiazon 1971–1974
Secretary of Industry Vicente Paterno 1974–1978
Secretary of Public Works,
Transportation and Communications
Antonio Raquiza 1966–1968
Rene Espina 1968–1969
Antonio Syquio 1969–1970
David Consunji 1970–1975
Alfredo Juinio 1975–1978
Secretary of Public Highways Baltazar Aquino 1974–1978
Director-General of the
National Economic and Development Authority
Gerardo Sicat 1973–1978

Prime Minister

In 1978, the position returned when Ferdinand Marcos became Prime Minister. Based on Article 9 of the 1973 constitution, it had broad executive powers, that would be typical of modern prime ministers in other countries. The position was the official head of government, and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. All of the previous powers of the President from the 1935 Constitution were transferred to the newly restored office of Prime Minister. The Prime Minister also acted as head of the National Economic Development Authority. Upon his reelection to president, Marcos was succeeded as Prime Minister by Cesar Virata in 1981.[citation needed]

Cabinet under Martial Law

President Ferdinand Marcos 1978–1986
Prime Minister Ferdinand Marcos 1978–1981
Cesar Virata 1981–1986
Minister of Agriculture Arturo Tanco, Jr. 1978–1984
Salvador Escudero III 1984–1986
Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos P. Romulo 1978–1984
Manuel Collantes 1984
Arturo Tolentino 1984–1985
Pacifico Castro 1985–1986
Minister of Finance Cesar Virata 1978–1986
Minister of Justice Vicente Abad Santos 1978–1979
Catalino Macaraig, Jr. 1979
Ricardo Puno 1979–1984
Estelito Mendoza 1984–1986
Minister of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile 1978–1986
Minister of Industry[33] Vicente Paterno 1978–1979
Roberto Ongpin 1979–1981
Minister of Trade Luis Villafuerte, Sr. 1979–1981
Minister of Trade and Industry Roberto Ongpin 1981–1986
Minister of Public Works,
Transportation and Communications
Alfredo Juinio 1978–1981
Minister of Public Highways Baltazar Aquino 1978–1979
Vicente Paterno 1979–1980
Jesus Hipolito 1980–1981
Minister of Public Works and Highways Jesus Hipolito 1981–1986
Director-General of the
National Economic and Development Authority
Gerardo Sicat 1978–1981
Cesar Virata 1981–1986
Minister of Energy Geronimo Velasco 1978–1986
Minister of Human Settlements Imelda Marcos 1978–1986
Minister of Labor Blas Ople 1978–1986

Third term (1981–1986)

We love your adherence to democratic principles and to the democratic process, and we will not leave you in isolation.
– U.S. Vice-President George H. W. Bush during Ferdinand Marcos inauguration, June 1981[35]

On June 16, 1981, six months after the lifting of martial law, the first presidential election in twelve years was held. As to be expected, President Marcos ran and won a massive victory over the other candidates. The major opposition parties, the United Nationalists Democratic Organizations (UNIDO), a coalition of opposition parties and LABAN, boycotted the elections.

Impeachment attempt

President Ferdinand Marcos in Washington in 1983.

On August 13, 1985, fifty-six Assemblymen signed a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Marcos for alleged diversion of U.S. aid for personal use,[36] citing a July 1985 San Jose Mercury News exposé of the Marcoses’ multi-million dollar investment and property holdings in the United States.[citation needed]

The properties allegedly amassed by the First Family were the Crown Building, Lindenmere Estate, and a number of residential apartments (in New Jersey and New York), a shopping center in New York, mansions (in London, Rome and Honolulu), the Helen Knudsen Estate in Hawaii and three condominiums in San Francisco, California.[citation needed]

The Assemblymen also included in the complaint the misuse and misapplication of funds “for the construction of the Film Center, where X-rated and pornographic films are exhibited, contrary to public morals and Filipino customs and traditions.”[citation needed]


During these years, Marcos's regime was marred by rampant corruption and political mismanagement by his relatives and cronies, which culminated with the assassination of Benigno Aquino. Critics considered Marcos the quintessential kleptocrat,[37] having looted billions of dollars from the Filipino treasury. The large personality cult in the Philippines surrounding Marcos also led to disdain.[citation needed]

During his third term, Marcos' health deteriorated rapidly due to kidney ailments, often described as lupus erythematosus. He was absent for weeks at a time for treatment, with no one to assume command. Marcos' regime was sensitive to publicity of his condition; a palace physician who alleged that during one of these periods Marcos had undergone a kidney transplant was shortly afterward found murdered. Many people questioned whether he still had capacity to govern, due to his grave illness and the ballooning political unrest.[38]

With Marcos ailing, his equally powerful wife, Imelda, emerged as the government's main public figure. Marcos dismissed speculations of his ailing health as he used to be an avid golfer and fitness buff who liked showing off his physique. In light of these growing problems, the assassination of Aquino in 1983 would later prove to be the catalyst that led to his overthrow. Many Filipinos came to believe that Marcos, a shrewd political tactician, had no hand in the murder of Aquino but that he was involved in cover-up measures. However, the opposition blamed Marcos directly for the assassination while others blamed the military and his wife, Imelda. The 1985 acquittals of Ver as well as other high-ranking military officers for the crime were widely seen as a miscarriage of justice.[citation needed]

By 1984, U.S. President Ronald Reagan started distancing himself from the Marcos regime that he and previous American presidents had strongly supported even after Marcos declared martial law. The United States, which had provided hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, was crucial in buttressing Marcos's rule over the years.[39] During the Carter administration the relation with the U.S. soured somewhat when President Jimmy Carter targeted the Philippines in his human rights campaign.[citation needed]

In the face of escalating public discontent and under pressure from foreign allies, Marcos called a "Snap election" in 1986, with more than a year left in his term. He selected Arturo Tolentino as his running mate.[citation needed] The opposition to Marcos united behind Aquino's widow, Corazon, and her running mate, Salvador Laurel.[40][41]

The "People Power movement" drove Marcos into exile and installed Corazon Aquino as the new president.[42] At the height of the revolution, Enrile revealed that his ambush was faked in order for Marcos to have a pretext for imposing martial law. However, Marcos maintained that he was the duly elected and proclaimed president of the Philippines for a fourth term.[citation needed]

The Philippine government today is still paying interest in public debts incurred during Marcos' administration. It was reported that, when Marcos fled, U.S. Customs agents discovered 24 suitcases of gold bricks and diamond jewelry hidden in diaper bags and in addition, certificates for gold bullion valued in the billions of dollars were allegedly among the personal properties he, his family, his cronies and business partners surreptitiously took with them when the U.S. provided them safe passage to Hawaii. When the presidential mansion was seized, it was discovered that Imelda Marcos had over 2700 pairs of shoes in her closet.[43]

Aquino's assassination

In 1983, opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr. was assassinated by his Philippine military escort at the Manila International Airport upon his return to the Philippines after three years in the United States. Popular speculations pointed to three suspects; first was Marcos himself through his trusted military chief Fabian Ver; the second theory pointed to his wife Imelda who had her own burning ambition now that her ailing husband seemed to be getting weaker and the third was that crony Danding Cojuangco planned the assassination because of his political ambitions. There is no basis either in motive or logic to support the allegation that either Ninoy or his ultra-pious wife Cory planned her husband's assassination. Ninoy's brutal death while under the custody of military security combined with Marcos' dictatorial governance and plundering of public coffers ultimately led to an irreversible spiral that saw widespread protests and his eventual ignominious eviction from Malacanang.[44]


Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos on a walk with U.S President Ronald Reagan.

To help finance a number of economic development projects, the Marcos government borrowed large amounts of money from international lenders.[45][46] The Philippines' external debt rose from $360 million (US) in 1962 to $28.3 billion in 1986, making the Philippines one of the most indebted countries in Asia.[45] A sizable amount of this money went to Marcos family and friends in the form of behest loans. These loans were assumed by the government and are still being serviced by taxpayers, to this day. These loans were ostensibly funded to construct the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant but after Marcos' ouster, the plant was not utilized. Today, more than half of the country's revenues go toward the payment of interest on these loans, with the principal amounts remaining largely untouched. During the time of the late Pres. Corazon Aquino, these debts were repudiated and finance secretary Jaime Ongpin, threatened to resign unless they were. He had a personal reason: Aurita Villoso, DBP internal auditor, said loans were granted to Ongpin's Delta Ventures Resources Inc (DVRI) amounting to P660 million. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (the central bank of the Republic of the Philippines) tried to resist the repudiation bill's passage in the Congress, but due to international pressure Aquino did allow the denial of these debts. [47]

Foreign capital was invited to invest in certain industrial projects. They were offered incentives, including tax exemption privileges and the privilege of bringing out their profits in foreign currencies. One of the most important economic programs in the 1980s was the Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran (Movement for Livelihood and Progress). This program was started in September 1981. It aimed to promote the economic development of the barangays by encouraging its residents to engage in their own livelihood projects. The government's efforts resulted in the increase of the nation's economic growth rate to an average of six percent or seven percent from 1970 to 1980.[48]

The Philippine economy suffered a great decline after the Aquino assassination in August 1983. The political troubles hindered the entry of foreign investments, and foreign banks stopped granting loans to the Philippine government.[citation needed] In an attempt to launch a national economic recovery program, Marcos negotiated with foreign creditors including the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for a restructuring of the country's foreign debts – to give the Philippines more time to pay the loans. Marcos ordered a cut in government expenditures and used a portion of the savings to finance the Sariling Sikap (Self-Reliance), a livelihood program he established in 1984.[citation needed]

However, the economy experienced negative economic growth from the beginning of 1984 and continued to decline despite the government's recovery efforts. The failure of the recovery program was caused by civil unrest, rampant graft and corruption within the government, and Marcos' lack of credibility. Marcos himself diverted large sums of government money to his party's campaign funds. The unemployment rate ballooned from 6.30% in 1972 to 27.65% in 1985.[49][citation needed]

Between 1972 and 1980, the average monthly income of wage workers had fallen by 20%. By 1981, the wealthiest 10% of the population was receiving twice as much income as the bottom 60%.[50]

With help from the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, Marcos brought the "Green Revolution" (industrialized, chemical agriculture) to the Philippines. These reforms resulted in high profits for transnational corporations, but were generally harmful to small, peasant farmers who were often pushed into poverty.[51] After declaring martial law in 1972, Marcos promised to implement agrarian reforms. However, the land reforms "served largely to undermine Marcos' landholder opponents, not to lessen inequality in the countryside",[52] and "encouraged conversion to cash tenancy and greater reliance on farm workers".[53] From 1972 to 1980, agricultural production fell by 30%.[50]

Under Marcos, exports of timber products were among the nation's top exports. Little attention was paid to environmental impacts of deforestation. By the early 1980s, the industry collapsed because most of the Philippines' accessible forests had been depleted.[54]

Corruption Charges

Since as early as March 1968, Ferdinand Marcos was reported to have deposited large amounts in Swiss banks including Credit Suisse, under the pseudonym "William Saunders" (an alias he had used during his World War II days), while Imelda used the pseudonym "Jane Ryan".[55] In 1988, he was indicted by the federal grand jury in Manhattan, USA, in a racketeering case that included charges that he embezzled more than $100 million from the Philippine Government and used the money to buy three buildings in New York City.[56]


At 5:00 a.m., February 26, 1986, Marcos talked to United States Senator Paul Laxalt, asking for advice from the White House. Laxalt advised him to "cut and cut cleanly", to which Marcos expressed his disappointment after a short pause.[57] In the afternoon, Marcos talked to Enrile, asking for safe passage for him and his family including his close allies like General Ver. Finally, at 9:00 p.m., the Marcos family was transported by a Sikorsky HH-3E helicopter[58] and a C-130 to Clark Air Base in Angeles City, Pampanga, about 83 kilometers north of Manila, before boarding US Air Force DC-9 Medevac and C-141B bound for Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, and finally to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii where Marcos arrived on February 26. Marcos died in Honolulu on September 28, 1989, of kidney, heart and lung ailments.

Marcos was interred in a private mausoleum at Byodo-In Temple on the island of Oahu, visited daily by the Marcos family, political allies and friends. His remains are currently interred inside a refrigerated crypt in Ilocos Norte, where his son, Ferdinand, Jr., and eldest daughter, Imee have since become the local governor and representative, respectively. A large bust of Ferdinand Marcos (resembling Mount Rushmore) was commissioned by the tourism minister, Jose Aspiras, and carved into a hillside in Benguet. It was subsequently destroyed; suspects included left-wing activists, members of a local tribe who had been displaced by construction of the monument, and looters hunting for the Marcos' legendary hidden treasure.[59] Imelda Marcos was acquitted of embezzlement by a U.S. court in 1990 but was still facing a several hundred additional corruption charges in Philippine courts in 2006.

In 1995 some 10,000 Filipinos won a U.S. class-action lawsuit filed against the Marcos estate. The charges were filed by victims or their surviving relatives for torture, execution and disappearances.[60][61]

Corazon Aquino repealed many of the repressive laws that had been enacted during Marcos' dictatorship. She restored the right of access to habeas corpus, repealed anti-labor laws, and freed hundreds of political prisoners.[62]

From 1989 to 1996, a series of suits were brought before U.S. courts against Marcos and his daughter Imee, charging them with executions, torture, and disappearances committed under their command. A jury in the Ninth Circuit Court awarded $2 billion to the plaintiffs and to a class composed of human rights victims and their families.[63] On June 12, 2008, the US Supreme Court (in a 7–2 ruling penned by Justice Anthony Kennedy in “Republic of the Philippines v. Mariano Pimentel”) held that: “The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is reversed, and the case is remanded with instructions to order the District Court to dismiss the interpleader action.” The court dismissed the interpleader lawsuit filed to determine the rights of 9,500 Filipino human rights victims (1972–1986) to recover $35 million, part of a $2 billion judgment in U.S. courts against the Marcos estate, because the Philippines is an indispensable party, protected by sovereign immunity. It claimed ownership of the funds transferred by Marcos in 1972 to Arelma S.A., which invested the money with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc., in New York.[64][65][66]

Human rights groups place the number of victims of extrajudicial killings under martial law at 1500 and Karapatan, a local human rights group's records show 759 involuntarily disappeared (their bodies never found). Military historian Alfred McCoy in his book "Closer than Brothers: Manhood at the Philippine Military Academy" and in his speech "Dark Legacy" cites 3,257 extrajudicial killings, 35,000 torture victims, and 70,000 incarcerated during the Marcos years.[67][68] The newspaper Bulatlat (lit. "to open carelessly") places the number of victims of arbitrary arrest and detention at 120,000.[69]


Marcos' family and cronies looted so much wealth from the country that to this day investigators have difficulty determining precisely how many billions of dollars were stolen. However, it is estimated that Marcos alone stole at least $5 billion from the Filipino treasury.[70][71] The Swiss government, initially reluctant to respond to allegations that stolen funds were held in Swiss accounts,[72] has returned US$684 million of Marcos’ wealth.[73][74][75]

According to Jovito Salonga, monopolies in several vital industries have been created and placed under the control of Marcos cronies, such as the coconut industries (under Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile), the tobacco (under Lucio Tan), the banana (under Antonio Floirendo), the sugar industry (under Roberto Benedicto) and manufacturing (under Herminio Disini and Ricardo Silverio). The Marcos and Romualdez families became owners, directly or indirectly, of the nation's largest corporations, such as the Philippine Long Distance Company (PLDC), of which the present name is Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT), the Philippine Airlines (PAL), Meralco (an electric company), Fortune Tobacco, the San Miguel Corporation (Asia's largest beer and bottling company), numerous newspapers, radio and TV broadcasting companies (such as ABS-CBN), several banks( most notably the Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank; PCIBank of the Lopezes now BDO after merging with Equitable Bank and after BDO acquired the merged Equitable PCI), and real estate properties in New York, California and Hawaii.[76] The Aquino government also accused them of skimming off foreign aid and international assistance.[citation needed]

Many laws written by Marcos are still in force and in effect. Out of thousands of proclamations, decrees and executive orders, only a few were repealed, revoked, modified or amended.[77] Few credit Marcos for promoting Filipino culture and nationalism. His 21 years in power with the help of U.S. massive economic aid and foreign loans enabled Marcos to build more schools, hospitals and infrastructure than any of his predecessors combined.[78]

In the 2004 Global Transparency Report, Marcos appeared in the list of the World's Most Corrupt Leaders. He was listed second behind the late President of Indonesia, Suharto and he was said to have amassed between $5 billion to $10 billion in his 21 years as president of the Philippines.[79][80]

During the ICIJ's (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) expose of Offshore leaks in April 2013, the name of his eldest daughter, Imee Marcos appeared on the list of wealthy people involved in offshore financial secrecy. It was revealed that she is hiding parts her father's ill-gotten wealth in tax havens in the British Virgin Islands.[81][82]


  • Today's Revolution: Democracy (1971)
  • Notes on the New Society of the Philippines II (1976)
  • An Ideology for Filipinos (1980)
  • Marcos' Notes for the Cancun Summit, 1981 (1981)
  • Progress and Martial Law (1981)
  • The New Philippine Republic: A Third World Approach to Democracy (1982)
  • Toward a New Partnership: The Filipino Ideology (1983)
  • A Trilogy on the Transformation of Philippine Society (1988)


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  7. See page 32,
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  33. The Ministry of Industry and Ministry of Trade were merged by President Ferdinand Marcos in 1981 as the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
  34. The Ministry of Public Works, Transportation and Communications and Ministry of Public Highways were merged by President Ferdinand Marcos in 1981 as the Ministry of Public Works and Highways.
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Further reading

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Political offices
Preceded by
Eulogio Rodriguez
President of the Senate
Succeeded by
Arturo Tolentino
Preceded by
Diosdado Macapagal
President of the Philippines
December 30, 1965 – February 25, 1986
Succeeded by
Corazon Aquino
Preceded by
Presiding Officer of the Legislative Advisory Council
Succeeded by
Position abolished
Preceded by
Jorge B. Vargas
(Ministries involved)
Prime Minister of the Philippines
Succeeded by
Cesar Virata
Unrecognised parameter
Preceded by
Pedro Albano
Member of the House of Representatives from Ilocos Norte's 2nd
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Simeon Valdez

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