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Today in 1998, Imelda Promised to Give $800 M if Elected President

The former first lady is a magnet for high-profile cases involving money.

On March 26, 1998, former First Lady Imelda Marcos announced that she would give $800 million if she wins the presidential seat in the 1998 elections. She claimed that she has this amount— approximately P40 billion— in her foreign bank accounts, which she would distribute to the Filipino people if she got elected as president. She added that this was a separate amount from the $450 million that her late husband, dictator Ferdinand Marcos, owned.

It can be remembered that in 1986 (the same year Ferdinand Marcos was ousted), a commission seeking to recover the Marcos family’s hidden wealth found $800 million in a Swiss account under the Marcos name. The commission says it was the largest amount the commission had connected to the family, but adds that there was reason to believe that there were more hidden accounts linked to them. (Read: 3 YouTube Documentaries About the EDSA People Power)

Now, three and a half decades after its discovery, the $800 million still hasn’t been returned— and the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) says that they have around P100 billion still left to recover from the Marcos’s ill-gotten wealth.

This is only one of the many controversies the family, specifically the Marcos matriarch, is continuing to face until now. Here are some others.

$200 Million in Swiss Banks

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Photos from (Imelda Marcos) PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images/Bloomberg.com and (Swiss bank) DNA India

Similar to what was mentioned before, the Marcos family had a liking toward putting their wealth in Swiss banks as it has one of the most protective secrecy laws, which makes it hard to be recovered. But as efforts to recover the family’s ill-gotten wealth continued, it was discovered that the former first lady had illegally transferred $200 million to a Swiss bank in the 1970s, while she was a governor of Metropolitan Manila.

In 2018, Imelda was found guilty of seven counts of graft by the Sandiganbayan, and was sentenced to 6 to 11 years in prison. (Read: Timeline: What Prompted Duterte’s Threat to Stop Facebook PH?)

Stolen Paintings

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Imelda Marcos, shown in her apartment in Manila in 2014, and her husband, Ferdinand E. Marcos, who died in 1989, amassed an art collection possibly worth hundreds of millions of dollars. (Photo from Kyodo/Associated Press/The New York Times)

It’s a known fact that the former first lady had a lavish lifestyle— she had hundreds and hundreds of shoes, jewelry worth millions, and loved authentic art. But what was not known was that her art collection was stolen from various sources. (Read: Hey, Filipinos! Historical Revisionism Is Not All Bad – Here’s Why!)

Imelda’s stolen painting collection i said to have included works by Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, and Edgar Degas. Some of the art pieces have been recovered by the Philippine government (said to be around $500 million worth of art), but some are still lost.

Here is a link to some updates about other civil and criminal cases that Imelda Marcos and her family are still facing.

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