Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Marcos is in Melbourne as PH awaits transition plans

Lian Buan
Marcos is in Melbourne as PH awaits transition plans

PROTEST IN MELBOURNE. Several Filipinos troop to an apartment in Melbourne where presumptive President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is supposed to be staying to protest his visit there. Photo from Kakampinks Victoria

Photo from Kakampinks Victoria

(1st UPDATE) Ferdinand Marcos Jr quietly heads to Melbourne and his spokesperson confirms he is in Australia for 'a private visit'

Presumptive Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is in Melbourne, Australia, as the country awaits his incoming government’s transition plans.

Amid a flurry of rumors of posh victory parties and an unconfirmed private island getaway, Marcos quietly flew to Melbourne where he was seen by at least one person that Rappler has spoken to Tuesday, May 17.

Marcos’ spokesperson Vic Rodriguez confirmed in a press conference Tuesday that Marcos is indeed in Australia for “a private visit.”

Person, Human, Text

Several Filipinos based in Melbourne trooped to the apartment where Marcos was believed to have been staying, and protested his visit there, bearing placards that read “tyrants not welcome here!”

In a livestream on Tuesday noon, the group Kakampinks Victoria, or supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo based in Victoria where the city of Melbourne is, said there were policemen in plain clothes in the area when they got there. They said it was an indication that there’s a VIP in the building.

Rodriguez remarked on the protest in Melbourne, saying, “Nakakahiya, wala sa kaugalian natin ang hiyain ang kapwa mo Pilipino sa ibang bansa. Ang dapat magsabi kung welcome siya ay gobyerno nila, hindi Pilipino na nandun lang dahil maraming poot.”

(It’s embarassing, as it’s not in our nature to embarrass fellow Filipinos in other countries. The one who should say [Marcos] is welcome is their government, not Filipinos there who hold plenty of hate.)

There was supposed to be an investigation of a Sydney-based company, believed to have also been a repository of the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth but Andres Bautista, former chairperson of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) told Rappler, “we eventually decided not to pursue it as our cost-benefit analysis showed the efforts to investigate the case would not be worth it for the government.”

The company’s name was Austraphil, registered under the name of Australian model Evelin Hegyesi. Supreme Court records show that in 1971, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos made Austraphil the first and sole beneficiary of the Azio Foundation. The Azio Foundation, according to Supreme Court records, is among the Swiss entities that held for Marcos his ill-gotten wealth. This is found in the 2003 decision of the Philippine Supreme Court that declared as stolen $658 million worth the Marcoses’ assets.

Whereabouts of the president-elect

Marcos’ whereabouts is important because by this time in 2016, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte already had systems in place for transition – he had established a fort in Davao City where he held almost nightly press conferences to discuss his plans.

Duterte spent a week in hibernation in the mountains after his presumptive win, but by this time in 2016, he was back to the city and had announced an economic agenda.

Philstar.com reported that investors are getting anxious, again comparing Duterte, who already had an economic team ready to take over.

As of now, Marcos has announced only two cabinet members: Vice President-elect Sara Duterte as Education Secretary, and former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos as Interior Secretary.

Rodriguez earlier explained that the campaign did not think beyond May 9.

The presumptive president is still reclusive, only facing the media twice since his presumptive win evening of May 9.

Marcos’ youngest son Vincent is reportedly with him in Melbourne.

Robredo is in the United States to attend the graduation of her youngest daughter Jillian, who is getting a degree from the New York University as a scholar. Robredo has been posting about the family trip, and said that she had assigned an officer-in-charge to man the transition of the Office of the Vice President while she’s away. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.