Philippines: The return of Imelda Marcos

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imelda shoes
Imelda Marcos presenting a shoe

Imelda Marcos, 84, widow of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is running for re-election to Congress in the May 13 Philippine mid-term elections in a move that seems the final chapter of her tumultuous political life.

The former first lady of the nation has been aggressively campaigning for a second of a maximum three terms to represent Ilocos Norte, a vote-rich agricultural region where many are fiercely loyal to the late dictator because of the money he poured into development.

And, in fact, on the campaign trail Imelda has been dazzling crowds with her illustrious appearance in extravagant fashion draped with diamonds and pearls as if nothing has changed from the times when she astounded the world by amassing a mammoth shoe collection while her husband looted billions of dollars from the impoverished country where a fourth of about 94 million still live on less than $1.25 a day.

Imelda, who returned from exile in Hawaii in 1991 after her husband’s death in 1989, first ran for office in 2010 and is still heading a political dynasty with her daughter governing a province and her son being a national senator.

Analysts say it seems that the ‘Marcos brand’ is stronger than at any time since the 1986 People Power revolution ended what critics call a kleptocratic “conjugal ­dictatorship”.

Imelda Marcos, nicknamed ‘Iron Butterfly’ or ‘The Unstoppable,’ became first lady of the Philippines in December 1965, when Ferdinand E. Marcos was elected tenth President of the Philippines.

Though while in power, Ferdinand Marcos implemented wide-ranging programmes of infrastructure development and economic reform, his administration was marred by massive corruption, political repression and human rights abuses. In 1983, he was accused of being involved in the assassination of his primary political opponent Benigno Aquino, Jr. The 1986 People Power Revolution brought his reign to an end, and it was later discovered that he and Imelda had moved billions of dollars of embezzled public funds to accounts and investments in the US, Switzerland and other countries.

The Marcos couple fled to exile in 1986. Successor as president was Corazon Aquino, mother of incumbent Philippine President Benigno Aquino III.

The government so far has recovered just under a tenth of the wealth that the Marcos family and their associates were accused of plundering, estimated to be around $10 billion. Imelda herself said that her ‘net worth’ was only $22 million, which still makes her the second-richest Philippine politician behind boxing hero and congressman Manny Pacquiao.

Imelda has been charged with civil and criminal crimes, but has never been jailed. It is not even clear what happened to her shoe collection which reportedly comprised up to 7,500 pairs.

Standing in her son Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Jr.’s way to the run-up for president in the 2016 presidential elections is Benigno Aquino III, who said he is determined to bury the Marcos myth “once and for all.”

However, SELDA, a group of former political prisoners under the Marcos dictatorship, said the prospect of another Marcos rising to the presidency was “alarming but possible.”

 

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Imelda Marcos presenting a shoe

Imelda Marcos, 84, widow of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is running for re-election to Congress in the May 13 Philippine mid-term elections in a move that seems the final chapter of her tumultuous political life.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

imelda shoes
Imelda Marcos presenting a shoe

Imelda Marcos, 84, widow of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is running for re-election to Congress in the May 13 Philippine mid-term elections in a move that seems the final chapter of her tumultuous political life.

The former first lady of the nation has been aggressively campaigning for a second of a maximum three terms to represent Ilocos Norte, a vote-rich agricultural region where many are fiercely loyal to the late dictator because of the money he poured into development.

And, in fact, on the campaign trail Imelda has been dazzling crowds with her illustrious appearance in extravagant fashion draped with diamonds and pearls as if nothing has changed from the times when she astounded the world by amassing a mammoth shoe collection while her husband looted billions of dollars from the impoverished country where a fourth of about 94 million still live on less than $1.25 a day.

Imelda, who returned from exile in Hawaii in 1991 after her husband’s death in 1989, first ran for office in 2010 and is still heading a political dynasty with her daughter governing a province and her son being a national senator.

Analysts say it seems that the ‘Marcos brand’ is stronger than at any time since the 1986 People Power revolution ended what critics call a kleptocratic “conjugal ­dictatorship”.

Imelda Marcos, nicknamed ‘Iron Butterfly’ or ‘The Unstoppable,’ became first lady of the Philippines in December 1965, when Ferdinand E. Marcos was elected tenth President of the Philippines.

Though while in power, Ferdinand Marcos implemented wide-ranging programmes of infrastructure development and economic reform, his administration was marred by massive corruption, political repression and human rights abuses. In 1983, he was accused of being involved in the assassination of his primary political opponent Benigno Aquino, Jr. The 1986 People Power Revolution brought his reign to an end, and it was later discovered that he and Imelda had moved billions of dollars of embezzled public funds to accounts and investments in the US, Switzerland and other countries.

The Marcos couple fled to exile in 1986. Successor as president was Corazon Aquino, mother of incumbent Philippine President Benigno Aquino III.

The government so far has recovered just under a tenth of the wealth that the Marcos family and their associates were accused of plundering, estimated to be around $10 billion. Imelda herself said that her ‘net worth’ was only $22 million, which still makes her the second-richest Philippine politician behind boxing hero and congressman Manny Pacquiao.

Imelda has been charged with civil and criminal crimes, but has never been jailed. It is not even clear what happened to her shoe collection which reportedly comprised up to 7,500 pairs.

Standing in her son Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Jr.’s way to the run-up for president in the 2016 presidential elections is Benigno Aquino III, who said he is determined to bury the Marcos myth “once and for all.”

However, SELDA, a group of former political prisoners under the Marcos dictatorship, said the prospect of another Marcos rising to the presidency was “alarming but possible.”

 

 

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