MANILA, Philippines – Thirty years after the fall of Ferdinand Marcos, the international political consultant he hired to help him cling to power is still very much active – this time, as the chief campaign strategist of US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
A Politico Magazine report published in June 2016 revealed more details about Paul Manafort's links to the Philippines' late dictator – just one of the several controversial foreign leaders he worked for.
According to Politico Magazine, a front group for Marcos agreed to pay Manafort's firm a whopping $950,000 a year.
Politico revealed that "Manafort worked more closely than previously known with Marcos and his wife, Imelda," both in Manila and in Washington, during the 1980s.
Documents also showed that the strongman "earmarked huge sums of cash for [Ronald] Reagan's 1980 and 1984 campaigns – as much as $57 million, according to one claim made to Philippine investigators."
But Politico reported that without a concrete paper trail, it's unclear how much money Manafort received, or whether supposed political contributions did end up in the Reagan campaign.
Manafort, for his part, told Politico that the money he got from Marcos' allies had been disclosed to the US Justice Department, and that rumors that he accepted – and hid – millions of dollars are false.
"It was circulating way back when, when people were out to just pass rumors and things about me. It's old stuff that never had any legs anywhere," Politico quoted Manafort as saying. "It's totally fiction."
But pressed for clarification, Trump's top strategist refused to elaborate on the role he played during Marcos' final years in power.
"When Politico asked him to describe his relationship with Marcos," the magazine said, "he laughed and said, 'I've got to go.'" – Rappler.com