Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

‘Why is that funny?’: Flustered Marcos laughs when asked about family’s plunder

Dwight de Leon

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‘Why is that funny?’: Flustered Marcos laughs when asked about family’s plunder

CHIEF EXECUTIVE. In this file photo, President Marcos attends the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta in September 2023.

Presidential Communications Office

On Australian television, Marcos downplays as propaganda the PCGG's findings about his family's ill-gotten wealth, even though this is well-documented

It’s not every day that media gets a chance to ask President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. about the history of his family’s plunder, and when the moment arose, the Philippine chief executive got visibly flustered.

Marcos agreed to a sit-down interview with ABC anchor Sarah Ferguson, who, after a series of questions on security issues concerning the Philippines, finally shifted the discussion to his father’s corruption.

“I think contemporary court judgments acknowledge the atrocities that were committed, but also the plunder of the country’s resources. Why wouldn’t you want all of that money back in the hands of the Filipino people?” she asked Marcos in the interview that aired on Monday, March 4.

The President let out a nervous laughter, a response that did not escape scrutiny from the interviewer.

“May I just ask you why that’s funny?” Ferguson added.

Marcos navigated a number of stutters before regaining composure.

“No, I’m thinking that that maintains, that that idea maintains, because it…. I take exception to many, many of the assertions that have been made. And I think we have been….  We have since…. The cases were filed. The government filed. Cases were filed against me, my family, the estate, et cetera. And up to now, we have found…. The assertions that were made, we have shown to be untrue,” he said.

The President added that his family had supposedly signed quitclaims, which would give up their claims to properties and assets that the government found, and that they had nothing left after their family fled to Hawaii as a result of the 1986 EDSA People Power revolution.

Marcos also downplayed as “propaganda” the Presidential Commission on Good Government’s findings that the family still owes the country a huge amount of money from ill-gotten wealth.

Missing context, false claims

It’s important to fact-check the President, who, in that interview, tried to whitewash the gravity of his family’s corruption, even though it is well-documented.

As of 2022, his father held the Guinness World Record of “greatest robbery of a government.” According to Guinness, during his father’s 21 years in power, the national loss was pegged at $5 billion to $10 billion, and first couple Marcos Sr. and Imelda themselves personally stole around $860.8 million.

When they arrived in Hawaii, they had with them valuable items worth $8 million, but these were later confiscated by US Customs.

‘Why is that funny?’: Flustered Marcos laughs when asked about family’s plunder

In 2018, anti-graft court Sandiganbayan found Imelda guilty of illegally creating private organizations in Switzerland.

As of September 2021, the government has retrieved P174 billion in ill-gotten wealth from the Marcoses, and is going after P125 billion more.

Marcos also claimed to have signed quitclaims, but as Reuters pointed out in 2022, his family has “defied court orders and appealed rulings requiring them to surrender assets.”

The reason why the Marcoses have also not paid their estate tax is because they are still claiming ownership of the properties in dispute.

Preference for international press

Marcos rarely gives one-on-one interviews. Since becoming president, he has only had separate sit-down conversations with actress Toni Gonzaga and news anchor Pia Arcangel.

Reporters covering Malacañang also don’t get to freely ask the President questions due to the Palace’s “strictly no ambush” policy. In rare occasions that Marcos entertains the press, he or his staff selects the journalists to ask him questions.

He tends to lower his guard when he travels abroad, as proven by his willingness to be interviewed by ABC’s Ferguson while he’s in Australia for a special summit between the country and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Aside from his interview on Australian television, he also agreed to chat with the Associated Press’ Ted Anthony in September 2022. These are on top of his few conversations with foreign think tanks.

Marcos won the presidency in 2022, securing a landslide victory that has not been seen since the 1986 uprising that kicked his dictator-father out of Malacañang.

Critics say the family’s return to power is the product of their decades-long sophisticated project to rehabilitate their image, enabled by disinformation campaigns. – Rappler.com

1 comment

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  1. ET

    I appreciate ABC anchor Sarah Ferguson’s action. It is tough to ask President Marcos Jr. questions about “atrocities” and “plunder” committed by then-President Marcos Sr. I hope other foreign journalists will also have the courage to ask the same questions whenever President Marcos Jr. visits their country unless he implements his “strictly no ambush” policy on them.

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.