The Marcos hidden assets are surfacing
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-08-07
Ninoy Aquino, in one of his classic tirades against the Marcoses, once quipped that then First Lady Imelda Marcos was already heavily involved in the mining industry. Ninoy joked: “Imelda would point at the most lucrative and desirable things in the Philippines and she would claim — that is mine, that is mine, that is mine.”

Now, at the rate Imee, Bongbong and Imelda are claiming “That is ours” — it would really seem that there was more than just political humor to Ninoy’s joke.

First, it was Imelda who came out from her cocoon and exclaimed “That is ours” when Tonyboy Cojuangco sold their PLDT (Philippine Long Distance Telephone) shares to First Pacific. I remember she even bandied about photo copies of their certificates of gold bullions so as to prove that they had the means to own PLDT.

Just a week ago, Imelda was again on the news to claim ownership of mansions in Canlubang, Leyte and Laoag. Although these were in government possession, she had spent her personal money to maintain some of these mansions.

Then, Imee Marcos claimed that the Marcos family owned 30% of the giant GMA Network that is now listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Imee’s claim to one-third of GMA Network did not surprise me at all. I still remember that in 1984 (I was an independent television programmer then) Imee Marcos took over the Broadcast City networks of RPN-9 and IBC-13 from long-time Marcos crony Roberto Benedicto and soon after she was also dictating pricing policy to GMA-7 (as GMA Network was known then).

RPN and IBC have always been talked about as owned by Ferdinand Marcos and were just assigned to Benedicto to manage. Kitchie, Bobby Benedicto’s daughter, was actively involved in programming the two networks.

The takeover by Imee of RPN and IBC was largely seen as a move by the Marcos children to take over their family assets. Their father was known to be ailing from end stage renal failure, a terminal disease. Imee appointed Ramon Monzon in 1984 to operate these channels for her.

Imee’s hand was felt not only in RPN-9 and IBC-13 but also in GMA-7. I recall that when Imee’s man Mon Monzon was trying to regulate the escalating cost of foreign programs, he was also dictating price ceilings to GMA-7 Vice President and Finance Officer Graciano Gozun. A vice president of Universal Television complained about this act of interference with market forces.

Marcos was very careful not to allow other political players to operate a TV network as this equates to political power and control of the public mind. Former RPN-9 general manager, the late Felipe Medina Jr., used to narrate to us how people associated with Martial Law architects Juan Ponce-Enrile and Danding Cojuangco tried to get hold of a television channel but could not get the dictator’s approval. Thus, many then would ask, just how “independent” was GMA-7?

And of course, Bongbong, the only Marcos son, also had to be in the ‘mining industry’ and he registered the family’s claim to the majority stake in Taipan Lucio Tan’s biggest businesses. However, Bongbong failed to testify last Wednesday in the Sandiganbayan to confirm their claim to Tan’s cash cows.

Twenty-one years ago, none of the Marcoses would have thought of making these claims. Twenty-one years ago, the Marcoses and their cronies were in denial mode — they would deny that they owned this, that and the next big thing. They claimed then that these “so-called Marcos ownerships” were all part of the black propaganda directed against the dictator.

Twenty-one years ago the Cory administration was bent on recovering all ill-gotten Marcos wealth and those of their cronies. Twenty-one years ago, the administration was out to prove the existence of Marcos plunder and corporate ownerships.

Today, we have good reason to suspect that the present dispensation has struck a deal with the Marcoses and so the Marcoses freely go about their ‘mining business’ knowing that it’s safe now to reclaim their crown jewels. Only under a climate that guarantees their full liberty would the Marcoses ever dare to expose themselves to further litigation for acquiring ill-gotten wealth.

The government recently lost the P220 million Security Bank case against the Marcoses. Many accused the PCGG (Presidential Commission for Good Government) for deliberately losing that case. The court itself wondered why the PCGG did not present a vital witness for the government case.

PCGG Commissioner Rick Abcede (who seems to have finally followed my advice and had taken a low profile) had been under attack before for partying with Imelda Marcos. One who is tasked to press legal charges must not be seen as partying with the person to be prosecuted otherwise the public will precisely suspect that a secret deal was struck whenever the government loses a case.

All these suggest that a warm climate of cooperation now exists between the Arroyo regime and the Marcoses. Of all the presidents after Marcos, legit or otherwise, the current Malacañang occupant is known to specialize in transactional politics.

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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