Marcos campaign donors: Controversial businessmen, lawyers

MANILA, Philippines – Twenty-nine years ago, the Marcos family, led by its patriarch Ferdinand Marcos, hastily abandoned Malacañang and went into exile in Hawaii after a people’s revolt that toppled the dictatorship.

Almost 3 decades later, the only begotten son of the late strongman, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, is being hoisted as a possible successor to Aquino.

A Marcos presidency in 2016 would mean these two feuding political families coming full circle. President Aquino’s mother, the late Corazon Aquino, assumed the presidency after the February 1986 people power revolt. Aquino’s term expires in 2016, and the younger Marcos is presumptively among those waiting in line to replace him.

It is no secret that the Marcos family dreams of making a return to Malacañang. Marcos’ widow, Imelda Marcos, reiterated this desire during her 85th birthday bash in 2014. “Returning to Malacañang would be a great help,” Imelda was quoted as saying.

“I see a Marcos running for the presidency. I see a Marcos as president,” she was also quoted as saying in a television interview.

The 57-year-old Marcos scion was more cryptic, however. In 2012, the senator issued an open-ended reply when asked asked about the presidency. “There’s a saying, ‘Never say never,’ so maybe,” Marcos said.

In June 2013, Marcos further toyed with his supposed destiny. “I’ll definitely be running for something. Good luck is being ready when the opportunity presents itself so baka swertehin ako sa 2016,” he said. (I might be lucky in 2016).

Things changed, however, after he was dragged into the pork barrel scam a few months later. Sensing a possible political demolition job, Marcos from then sought to downplay talks about his presidential ambition.

In June 2014, Marcos said his options are open, with a Senate reelection the most obvious political course for him. “I’ve always been advised to keep my options open so I always try to keep my options open for as long as possible,” he added. 

But in August 2014, Marcos was more categorical in saying that on the contrary, it was never his dream – but his mother’s – to become president. “It has never been a dream,” Marcos said, alluding to Mrs Marcos’s constant reference to him as a future president.

“She’s been dreaming that since she was born. I’ve been hearing that since I was a child…The first time I heard it I was 3 years old. It’s not a question of granting her wish, it’s just, who can predict the future?” Marcos said.

3rd biggest spender

Already, like their bitter rival Aquinos, history has repeated itself for the Marcoses.

Like his son, the late dictator was a former member of the House of Representatives and a senator before contesting the presidency in 1965. The senior Marcos also switched to the Nacionalista Party after he lost the Liberal nomination for that year. The younger Marcos joined the Nacionalista Party in 2009 as part of its senatorial team.

Still, having a Marcos surname, shameful or revered, depending on one’s political viewpoint, is not a sure ticket to a national election.

Poll expense disclosures of the Marcoses showed that the senator’s senatorial campaign was the most expensive political exercise to date for the family.

In his statement of election contribution and expenditures (SOCE) for the 2010 polls, the younger Marcos  spent a total of P109.485 million, representing the 3rd biggest expense among the senatorial candidates.

Only Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and losing candidate Ariel Querubin spent more than Marcos at the time.

Table 1: Top 5 spenders in 2010 senatorial race

 

By comparison, if her SOCE is to be believed, Mrs Marcos reported only  P150,000 as campaign expense when she contested the presidency in 1992.

Among the 12 winning senators in 2010, Marcos is behind Enrile in terms of expense vis-a-vis votes received.

Table 2


The above data show that Marcos, who placed 7th in the race with a total of 13,169,634 million votes, spent over P8 for every vote that he got. In comparison, the top vote-getter in the 2010 senatorial race, Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, spent only about P4 for every vote obtained. The senator with the lowest expense per converted vote is 3rd placer Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago whose expense amounted to only P0.029 for every vote received. 

P109-million campaign expense

In 2007 when he ran for Congress for the 2nd district of Ilocos Norte, Marcos spent only less than a million pesos. Out of his total P998,569.28 expenditure, he got P280,000 as contributions from donors.

(Expense-wise, however, his mother had an easier victory. Contesting the same post vacated by her son in 2010, Mrs Marcos spent only P463,184. In 2013, she secured a second term, spending only P506,610).

With more areas to cover, more votes to secure and out of his comfort zone, the nationwide nature of his senatorial campaign necessitated a higher personal expense. In 2010, Marcos spent P15.695 million of his personal funds to finance his campaign.

Who covered the rest of his campaign expenses?

He got a little help from a motley of supporters and donors, some of them hounded by controversy.

Among the senatorial candidates, Marcos was 3rd highest recipient of donations, behind Enrile and  Querubin.

From February 9 to May 4, 2010, Marcos was able to solicit P93.79 million to cover up the rest of his campaign expense. 

Table 3


Controversial donors

Leading the pack of his core supporters are businessmen Ernest Escaler and Jose Singson Jr.

Escaler, who was dragged into the extortion controversy involving former justice secretary Hernando Perez, and Singson, a former nominee of the discredited 1st Kabagis party-list group and brother of former Ilocos Sur governor Luis Chavit Singson, each gave P20 million.

A certain Eduardo L. Alino shelled out P10 million, the same amount donated by a certain Susana Fong.

Also donating a substantial amount were Ernesto Villavicencio, architect Jorge Manuel Yulo, and lawyer Manuel Lazaro. Lazaro was a former counsel of the late president Marcos.

Lawyer Jose Flaminiano – who serves as counsel for former president Arroyo, former president Estrada and his son, Senator Jinggoy Estrada for their respective plunder cases in the Sandiganbayan – was also on the list, donating P500,000. – with reports from Reynaldo Santos Jr and Michael Bueza/Rappler.com