Marcos Fact Checks

FALSE: Singapore refuses to pay loans from PH during Marcos regime

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FALSE: Singapore refuses to pay loans from PH during Marcos regime
Singapore ruled in favor of the Philippine National Bank, rejecting the Philippine government's claim to Marcos' $23.7-million estate in the Singapore branch of the German bank WestLB
At a glance
  • Claim: Singapore refuses to pay loans taken from the Philippines during the regime of Ferdinand Marcos.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: Singapore’s refusal to pay was not on loans but on a decision made by their high courts to reject the Philippine government’s claim on late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ accounts with the Singapore branch of the German bank WestLB.
  • Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made on a video posted on a Facebook page named “Khopars VLOG” on January 20, 2022. As of writing, the video has more than 53,000 reactions, 764,000 views, and 3,900 comments.
Complete details

On January 20, 2022, the Facebook page “Khopars VLOG” uploaded a video with the caption: “Isiniwalat na ang hindi ibinalita noon. Bakit mahal ng mga tao ang mga Marcoses? Singapore may utang pala sa Pilipinas noon?” (What was previously unreported has been revealed. Why do the people love the Marcoses? It turns out Singapore borrowed money from the Philippines before?)

The video features a man claiming that Singapore’s prime minister during Ferdinand Marcos’ time was given advice and loans by the dictator, and that Singapore would not pay back these loans on the grounds that the funds were ill-gotten.

This claim is false.

On December 30, 2013, Singapore’s Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Philippine National Bank to hold in trust $16.8 million (P745.9 million, based on the $1 = ₱44.4 rate on that day) and £4.2 million ($6.7 million or P298.3 million; £1 = $1.6). 

The funds totaled $23.5 million (P1.05 billion). These funds were alleged to be the ill-gotten wealth Marcos amassed and deposited to the Singapore branch of the German bank WestLB. 

Among those who made claims to this account were the Philippine government, the victims of human rights abuses during the dictatorship, and various other foundations and corporations.

An Esquire Philippines article cited Lee Kuan Yew’s views on Marcos, based on his memoirs. It said that in August of 1983, Marcos’ then-minister for trade and industry tried to ask for a loan of $300 million to $500 million (P3.3 billion to P5.5 billion; $1 = P11.0 in August 1983). Yew said that, at that point, Singapore’s banks were already financing about $8 billion of Philippine debt. 

Accounts like this run counter to the video’s claim that the Philippines was a creditor to the Singapore government during the Marcos dictatorship.

As of September 30, 2021, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported that the Philippines owed Singapore $1.5 billion (P76.6 billion; $1 = P51.1 on September 30, 2021) in debt. – Renzo Arceta/

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