Ferdinand Marcos

ferdinand marcosThe political life of Ferdinand Edralin Marcos started with the death of famous Philippine icon Julio Nalundasan (1935) and ended with the death of Benigno “Noynoy Aquino, Jr. (1983). Ferdinand Marcos’ was born September 11, 1917 in Ilocos Norte, Sarrat. His parents were Mariano Marcos and Josefa Edralin, both teachers. Later on, his father became a congressman from 1925 – 1931 and was killed by the Japanese in 1945. Young Ferdinand Marcos was an excellent student in school. In fact, his extraordinary memory allowed him to memorize complicated lessons and even recite it backwards and forwards.

Jailed during his senior year in law school

On September 20, 1935, there was a celebration of congressional election winner Julio Nalundasan against Mariano Marcos. Nalundasan was at home and he was shot dead by Ferdinand Marcos who was then 18 years old. Three years later after the incident, Ferdinand was already in his fourth year in law school. He was also an honour student during this time however that did not excuse him to be arrested for the murder of Nalundasan. A year later, he graduated in law school and was found guilty of Nalundasan’s death.

During his jail time he took the bar examination and passed with high score. He was even accused of cheating because of his high score. However, when he did oral re-examination before the Philippine Supreme Court, Marcos scored even higher. Marcos also wrote his own appeal during his jail time. When they took his appeal in 1940, the judge dismissed his case and released him from prison. Allegedly, the judge was influenced by Judge F. Chua – Ferdinands’ grandfather. A day after that, he returned to the Supreme Court and took his oath as a new lawyer.

US Armed forces most decorated soldier

In World War II Ferdinand Marcos emerged and gained the reputation as a Filipino resistance leader. He was a decorated soldier in the US Armed forces and served as a third lieutenant on clerical duty.

During wartime, Ferdinand Marcos spent most of his times in hospitals because he experienced stomach pains and fevers. Most probably, it were the first signs of lupus - a degenerative disease which eventually caused Marcos’ death.

Creating a secret organization in the Philippines

In early 1943 Ferdinand Marcos created a secret organization in Manila, called the resistance organization “Ang Mga Maharlika” or Noble Studs. He claimed the organization was composed of assassins, saboteurs, and spies. But at least some members were criminals who joined because of their interest in black market operation.

At the end of WWII he decided to resume his law practice and filed a claim of $595.000 for 2,000 Brahim cattle from his imaginary ranch in Mindanao.  The US army investigated the case and concluded there was no ranch and thus no cattle.

Entering the Philippine House of Representatives

In December 1948 four articles were published stating the remarkable war exploits of Ferdinand Marcos, increasing Marcos’ reputation. The magazine articles came after the editor had met him  in a luncheon meeting and included the Maharlika resistance organisation

In 1949 Marcos was running for a seat in the house of representative and won with 70 percent of the vote with a promise of getting benefits for more than 2 million unrecognized Filipino veterans.

It took less than one year for Ferdinand to make a million dollar. Mainly caused by tobacco subsidies from the Americans, colossal cigarette smuggling operation and extortion of Chinese businesses.

His personal life

Marcos maried Imelda Romualdez on May 1, 1954 only 11 days after meeting for the first time in Baguio during holy week. They got three children namely: "Imee" Marcos or Maria Imelda Marcos,  Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr., Irene Marcos and adopted Aimee Marcos.

Political Career

Ferdinand Marcos was twice re-elected in the Philippine Senate as representative of the 2nd district of Ilocos Norte. He also became the vice president of the Liberal Party from 1954 to 1961, after supporting Diosdado Macapagal Presidential campaign. After Diosdado refused to step down after one term, Marcos joined the Nationalist Party and was elected as the 10th president of The Philippines in November 1965.

marcos inauguration

As president, Marcos focused on infrastructural development of the country, including hospitals, roads, bridges as well as schools. The projects were funded by an increase in tax collection and foreign loans.

Winning his second term in presidency

Ferdinand Marcos won the re-election as he easily defeated Sergio Osmeña Jr. However, the election were coupled with fraud charges and violence. At his second term  in office there was an increase of civil disorder linked to mass corruption and his inability to keep the growth of the economy in line with the population growth. Other factors for the unrest were the forming of The New People’s Army by the communist party in 1968 and a year later the National Moro Liberation Front who fought for independence in Mindanao.

Declaring Martial Law

In January 1970 some 2,000 demonstrators stormed the Malacañang Palace armed with Molotov cocktails and fire bombs.  Police responded with tear gas and bullets, resulting in four fatalities and many injured demonstrators,.

November the same year Pope Paul VI came to Manila and was attacked on the airport by Bolivian painter Benjamin Mendoza with a knife. Bystanders subdued the attacker, who later claimed to hate all kinds of religion. 

When in the same year two grenades were thrown on the stage of a rally of the opposing Liberal Party,  Marcos had enough reasons to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus and keep people imprisoned without a trial. In the beginning of 1972 this right was shortly restored by a ruling from the Philippine supreme court, until Martial law was declared.

Proclamation No. 1081 Virtue- Martial Law Dragged for 9 Years

President Marcos declared martial law in September 1972, after an alleged assault  of his minister of Defence, Juan Ponce Enrile,  by communist insurgents. Juan Ponce Enrile later declared that the attack was staged by Marcos supporters.

In the period that followed civil liberties and press freedom were suspended, independent media closed and Congress Abolished. Also the main opposition leaders Senator Jose Diokno and Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr, were arrested and jailed for years.

The drastic measures also had positive side effects. Armed gangs and criminals were easily jailed with the help of the martial law resulting in a sharp decrease of criminal activities. Farmers were given the opportunity to get loans for producing new rice varieties, boosting rice yields and making the country self-sufficient in rice.

The military was strongly expended during the first years of Martial law and provided the backbone for Marcos’ power, although most of the forces were ill equipped and solely used to suppress opposition.

In January 1981 martial law was partially lifted, although Marcos retained most of his powers and the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus was still suspended in the troublesome regions of Western and Central Mindanao.

Noting the Fourth Republic

When on August 21, 1983 former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. was assassinated at Manila International Airport after his return of exile,  Marcos’ power base quickly declined

Two years later President Marcos unexpectedly announced early elections, held in February 1986. Corazon Aquino, the wife of Benigno Aquino Jr., was asked to run for president by businessman Joaquin Rocesa who successfully managed to get a million signatures from supporters within a week. Corazon Aquino

The elections were coupled with allegations of fraud and according to the official voting commission, Marcos won the vote to Aquino 10.807.197 to 9.291.761. However the National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections concluded Aquino won the elections. Both candidates claimed victory and weeks of unrest followed, leading to a climax when by then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and General Fidel V. Ramos took the side of Aquino and took with them parts of the army.  When also the catholic church and US Government called on Marcos to step down and millions of protestors gathered along the main traffic artery EDSA in Manila, he had no choice but to flee the country.

Marcos plea for American help

With the assistance of the US government, Marcos was given a US Air Force jet that allowed him and his closest allies to fly to Hawaii, where he stayed until his death in 1989. During their escape, they brought with them about 300 crates of possessions and 28 million in Philippine currency.

Cory Aquino’s administration stated that the possessions they brought were only a small portion to the five or ten billion of acquired wealth through illegal activities. It was later on found out that during 20 years in the president position, Marcos together with his wife moved billions of dollars to accounts in Switzerland and US. The bank accounts of Marcos in Switzerland were frozen and  over $475 million in possessions collected.

In 1955 the Philippine government auctioned three collections of jewelleries from Imelda Marcos that were worth about $13 million. After a thirteen year legal battle, Ferdinand Marcos’ family agreed to pay $150 million to compensate their human rights victims. There are wide ranges of programs that Marcos implemented. Yet, history tells that his administration was being involved in political repression, massive corruption and violations of human rights.