Marcos-Romualdez Families Should Surrender the Ill-Gotten Wealth to Reconstruct Leyte

L'Eglise et la Seine a Vertheuil

L’Eglise et la Seine a Vertheuil by Monet

Dissecting the Marcos-Romualdez playbook

by Andrew Lim


Story from Tacloban :  When Mayor Romualdez hears a constituent tell a sad tale of losing his house, he tells them he lost two houses. When people report of losing a car to the flood,  he counters that he lost seven cars. (source: Land of the Mourning by Patricia Evangelista, Esquire Magazine, pp123-124, Dec 2013 issue)

Of course the mayor’s intent is to say that he shares in their loss, and that he, too is a victim. But sharp observers will note that those statements remind you to paraphrase what F Scott Fitzgerald said, that the mayor is not like you and me.

As of this writing, two pieces of good news on the Marcos/Romualdez ill- gotten wealth recovery effort:

  1. The conviction of Vilma Bautista, former secretary of Imelda Marcos in New York City, for tax fraud and conspiracy charges related to the sale of four paintings, including a Monet which netted her $32M. (GMA News Online, Jan 15, 2014.)
  2. Sandiganbayan rules that the “Malacanang Collection”, a set of jewelry owned by Imelda Marcos was ill-gotten and can be auctioned by the govt and is estimated to go for $8.5M. (, Jan 15, 2014)

Through the years, the PCGG (Presidential Commission on Good Government) has been engaged in a protracted battle with the Marcos-Romualdez families to recover their ill-gotten wealth. The late Alfredo Bejo Romualdez, a brother of Imelda and father of the incumbent mayor Alfred, was facing a forfeiture case for accounts and securities deposted in two Swiss accounts, despite having a net worth and source of income far below these amounts. One of the accounts had 12.5M  Swiss francs in 1985. (, PCGG targets Bejo Romualdez’Swiss bank accounts, May 5, 2012.)


Mayor Alfredo Romualdez


Rehab czar Panfilo Lacson and many others have noted that the amounts collected and pledged for the recovery of the affected areas will not be sufficient. (Lacson: Yolanda Rehab budget not enough, Rappler, Dec 17, 2013/ Abad: No extra money for Tacloban, Rappler, Jan 11, 2014) An estimated P130-200B is needed.

Which brings me to my argument:  The Filipino people should pressure the Marcos-Romualdez families to return the ill-gotten wealth voluntarily, and use it for the rehabilitation of Tacloban and Eastern Visayas. 

Estimates of the entire ill gotten wealth range from $5-10B, according to the PCGG. Only a fraction of that has been returned. The Monet painting sold for $32M previously discussed would have brought in P1.4B. And that’s just one piece!

Of course, this is now the subject of litigation, and the Marcos-Romualdez families with their supporters would argue that they are not ill -gotten, unless rulings have been handed down.

But the Filipino people know this well enough: their salaries as public officials during the reign of Ferdinand, and their declared investments and businesses, do not account for the immense wealth they accumulated. How else could they have funded their resurgent political careers?

Post- EDSA 86 revolution and post-ouster of  Ferdinand Marcos,  they have been patiently rebuilding the brand name: Congressman Martin for Tacloban, Mayor Alfred  for Tacloban,  Governor Imee for Ilocos. The former First Lady had served as Congressman for Leyte. Bongbong, now Senator,  could be eyeing the presidency.


Congresswoman Imelda Marcos

Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez is best known for owning up to footing the bill for that infamous Le Cirque meal for Gloria Arroyo and her entourage that cost P1M in 2009.

A local daily, the Manila Standard, was bought by a group led by Martin Romualdez from tycoon Ricky Razon, ostensibly to help in propaganda work. (, April 16, 2010)  No wonder two of the most vociferous columnist attack dogs notorious for fabricating “sources in Malacanag” write for this paper.

This author believes that if the Filipino people express loudly enough this call for the Marcos and Romualdez families to return the ill-gotten wealth then it could pave the way for genuine reconciliation, one that is founded on justice and not “forgive and forget, and let’s move on” which many pro-Marcos as well as Catholic prelates favor.

Imelda Marcos is in her 80s and has been going in and out of the hospital. She is near the end of her mortal life, and the Filipino people should remind her and her family that she cannot take it with her. She should do good by the Filipino people, many of whom are her kababayans in Leyte.

She should be reminded that there are no motions for reconsideration, no delays and all judgments are final and executory when facing the Ultimate Judge.  There are no Estelito Mendozas in the afterlife, because they are all busy fanning themselves from the heat.

44 Responses to “Marcos-Romualdez Families Should Surrender the Ill-Gotten Wealth to Reconstruct Leyte”
  1. manuel buencamino says:

    Slightly off-topic but this puts a perspective on how beliefs or strongly held opinions can get in the way.

  2. Joseph-Ivo says:

    More and more physical indicators are found that correlate with asocial behavior. I would love to see the heart rate at rest, some brain scans and some genetic information of the Marcos and Romualdez families. Most probably their natural predisposition reinforced with environmental circumstances could explain a large part of their asocial behavior. Their perception of good and evil might be very different of an ordinary citizen. Hoping that Yolanda was strong enough to modify their value system might be an illusion.

    The poor living with blinkers in a survival mode have a different set of values too compared those who know what they will eat tomorrow. These blinkers distort their perception, bling bling is seen positive and a signal the food is around the corner. In their world voting for those exposing bling bling is a logical decision expressing hope for a better future.

    What needs to be done is reiterating the facts, insisting that justice will rule, follow through on previous condemnations and improving EDUCATION.

    • manuel buencamino says:


      I hope you don’t mean to use the word EDUCATION as a synonym for behavior modification and social engineering.

      • Joe America says:

        Fascinating topic, actually. I think behavior and social values are a form of knowledge and indeed fall within the realm of education. We teach obedience over disobedience, and respect for the National Anthem as opposed to disdain, so I think teaching that 10 babies has consequences is appropriate, and planning is better than reacting (or what’s a boy scout for?).

      • Dee says:

        May I know what is your reservation about behavior modification and social engineering? They are part of every successful process improvement methodology such as Kaizen and Six Sigma. Philippines’ processes need improvement so why do you seem to resist such a progressive idea? There are two forces to the Newtonian inertia theory: action and reaction. Isn’t it time for action even just to know what reaction one could get?

        • manuel buencamino says:


          I equate behavior modification and social engineering with programming societies to behave in certain ways…ways that suit whomever dominates a particular society at a certain point…for example Catholics during the days of conquest, communists in USSR and China, Nazis during the Hitler era, fascists during Mussolini and Franco eras, monarchists during the time of kings and queens, Talibans etc. etc….behavior modification and social engineering is anomalous to my idea of a free society

          • Dee says:

            Now, I understand where you are coming from. Should it be an extreme measure? Could it be something like the Freedom of Information Act and/or Whistleblowers Protection and Benefits Act? Laws that change people’s behavior for the betterment of the country? I think Filipinos know what is good/bad for them and will not let something that will affect them adversely get passed in the legislature. A society is not free if it is shackled with poverty, corruption and other malaise. As baycas says above, Filipinos need a new mindset, one that entails culture change.

          • manuel buencamino says:


            Laws are not the same as education. The former is concerned with modifying outward behavior while the latter is concerned with modifying the way we think. I would rather we left the mind to its own devises while imposing restrictions on negative products of the mind.

  3. Joe America says:

    I must say, Andrew, I found this article both informative (I never knew Imelda’s maiden name) and provocative, in the sense that what you say is most honorable, if we had scales of justice that weighed sins accurately and collected debts rigorously. Unfortunately, we don’t. I think that Imelda will not heed your call and will trundle off like all the other thieves and scoundrels who figure they can even outfox the “Ultimate Judge”. I’ve come to believe that such people are masters at deluding even themselves.

    • andrew lim says:

      @Joe, @manuel buencamino, @Joseph Ivo:

      Dont give up yet on this quest, quixotic though it may seem. “Till hell freezes over” and “a snowball’s chance in hell” were just expressions till the polar vortex came along. Now Hell (a town in Michigan) is frozen, and a snowball’s chance in Hell is actually good. 🙂

  4. andrew lim says:

    Most of the corrupt in this country delude themselves that they did no wrong because the money did not come from the National Treasury. They think that getting kickbacks, incentives, for approved projects are not immoral. Erap used to repeat that did not steal a single centavo- he got them from the jueteng lords.

    One of Imelda’s famous quotes was “Some are smarter than others” in reference to the cronies who were close to the Marcoses during their reign and were cornering the contracts.

    They’ll see for themselves then. And it will be for eternity. 🙂

    • baycas says:

      There are a lot of ‘Robin Hoods’ here.

      As long as they give some of the ‘robbings’ to the poor people…even the holy ‘hoodlums’ will tolerate them.

  5. Cebuana C.A. says:

    A plague on all their houses. I still wonder why my dad’s generation never put enough effort to give the Marcoses and his cronees a decent trial and be incarcerated at the most dank of places one can imagine. For goodness’ sake, getting exiled to Hawaii is more luxurious than where the innocent public live. They could’ve been sent to Guantamo if it existed then.

    The worst thing for society there is apathy. More apathy to their evils. And this is why the gap between the rich and the poor is widening. Our level of indifference to their greed is really alarming. Some of my friends I know who had visited the country even thought the people there are so happy in spite of their terrible living conditions. No, it isn’t that they’re happy – it’s just that a lot of them just stopped caring anymore. When successive corrupting forces keep driving progress away, the hope of finding opportunities can be really discouraging. It’s either abandon the ship or become scum like them, too.

  6. Dee says:

    I agree with your thesis statement. That is what I thought when Tacloban was devastated: the Marcos and the Romualdez clan owe it to themselves as much as to the Taclobanons to restore the city to its former glory. I did not hear any news about them pledging any of their wealth to Tacloban’s rehabilitation. Imee (?), the Ilocos governor, raided the local government coffers to send something. Bongbong, Imelda and Irene? Aside from Imelda’s histrionics and Bongbong’s doing damage control about Alfred’s ineptitude, no talk of financial assistance to their beloved provenance.

  7. letlet says:

    ” Which brings to my argument: The Filipino people should pressure Marcos – Romualdez families to return the ill-gotten wealth voluntarily…………….”

    What could be your best suggestions / plan of actions to crystallize this wishful event? There are many times words are easier said than done especially in the case of Filipinos finding themselves in serious dilemma and / or predicament in terms of politics. How should the Filipino people pressure the Marcos – Romualdez ( who are more slimy and wriggly than the snakes) to voluntarily return their ill – gotten wealth. They will say ” not even in your dreams”, and due to the fact that they are already denying that their wealth is ill gotten.

    We are hoping against hope.

    • Dee says:

      Push for the Freedom of Information Act to be passed? The solons and other public officials will have no means to hide their wealth if a law requires them to be transparent. Then sic COA, BIR and all the proper entities to do a lifestyle check on the corrupt.
      Also getting the Whistleblowers Protection and Benefits Act passed? No Filipino in their right mind will blow the whistle if there is no government protection and benefits in place. They will be too afraid to expose corruption if it means losing their livelihood and endangering themselves and their families.
      I think these laws could pressure all corrupt people to toe the line, not only the Marcoses and the Romualdezes. I say,once and for all, let’s do a spring cleaning of the government from the Barangay to the Executive level.
      Yes, easier said than done, but pressuring the legislative and executive branches to pass FOIA and WPBA will hopefully bring about a transparent government and honest public servants.

  8. it’s only the first month of the year and this title wins the biggest understatement of the year award! i can’t believe im reading this in 2014:

    “This author believes that if the Filipino people express loudly enough this call for the Marcos and Romualdez families to return the ill-gotten wealth then it could pave the way for genuine reconciliation, one that is founded on justice and not “forgive and forget, and let’s move on” which many pro-Marcos as well as Catholic prelates favor.”

    me thinks the author is the one forgetting and forgiving… imelda marcos is imelda marcos, she will die an imelda marcos, period. it’s just so naive to think that the coming of death will change this woman. that there is a remote possibility of them returning their ill-gotten wealth. makatawa jud me! if we be so ‘religious’ about it, they sold their souls to the devil a long, long, long time ago.

    if, if, if, if…

    if assassination and full robbery were the author’s suggestion, i would’ve considered the seriousness of his call for justice. happy new year, joeam! 🙂

    • andrew lim says:

      Who knows? If the destruction of Tacloban was not enough to wake them up, perhaps an earthquake in the Ilocos? Or an outbreak of a virulent strain of bird flu in the North (since many Chinese tourists fly direct to play golf or do the casinos there)

      But this is JoeAmerica’s Society of Honor, and we do not openly advocate “assassination and full robbery”. We try our best to remain civilized here despite the temptations of burning down the house.

      I assure you, the day Imelda dies, my response would be “burn in hell” and not “rest in peace.”

      • Geng says:

        Your article is timely and meaningful but would there be an overwhelming support from the people. Not just of the whole country but from majority of the Taclobanons who do not believe that they did acquire ill-gotten wealth?

        • Yes! Imelda and her kin are considered a hero over there, no exaggeration. Imelda will always be the daughter of Leyte, she is well-loved. Some even think the Marcoses are pitiful and deserving of a break from being constantly “bullied politically” (is what they call those ill-gotten wealth cases filed against them). I know first hand marcos loyalists myself.

          • Cebuana C.A. says:

            I know some of my family friends who are Marcos loyalists, too. They’re educated folks like lawyer and dentist. Their view of the Marcos regime seem to me puzzling. Apparently, my dad said that at that period in the 80s when all the political turmoil was in its peak, people were actually divided in their views of the Marcoses. There was only a period of time til someone initiated civil war. My dad somehow wished that had happened, because having this faux-peace (when in fact it’s been hijacked by ex-Marcos cronees worse than him) has resulted little good in the country. Perhaps if we’d gone through like how Vietnam did, there would be great purging on the lawless (and innocent will perhaps be affected as well). But there’s like refining the character of the filipino. We are somehow too undisciplined and too lax about our domestic problems. Now, we reap what we sow and it has manifested in the revival of the Marcoses in politics.

    • Joe America says:

      Happy New Year, Desiree. Imelda is cast in stone, I agree, from head to heart.

      • Dee says:

        “If VP Binay were elected President, he would have my support. 100%.
        The slate gets erased clean the day a President takes his oath.”

        Did I read that right?
        Ricky, you have some ‘splaining to do!

        • Joe America says:

          You read it right, Dolly. The starting point is a clean slate. The people have spoken and I choose to respect their choice. Now am I confident that good results will follow? No, not considering the flaws in judgment and self-interest displayed by Mr. Binay as VP. But his legacy is based not on that nor on what he did in Makati, and he can go down in history as a scoundrel or a hero. If he chooses hero, he has a lot of power, a lot of friends, and may be able to get things done that others cannot. If he chooses scoundrel, that will quickly become clear and I reserve the right to raise my voice to a fevered pitch in reaction thereto. But the starting point is respectful of the democratic process. 100%.

          And prior to the election, except during the election period proper when foreigners wear a gag-order, I can advocate for a different choice. And will.


          • Dee says:

            I’m supposed to be Lucy, but anyway… I wish I could be as nonjudgmental of Binay as you are. I see your point, we as foreigners cannot be part of the democratic process so respect for the people’s choice should be in order. BUT I can’t see him going the hero route so I will actively advocate for someone better.

  9. letlet says:

    @ Dee

    The passage of the FOIA, I believe will SOMEHOW eradicate the corruption / uncover the ill gotten wealth of the hardcore politicians, but most of their ill gotten are already well secured in their offshore bank accounts, not even listed or mentioned in their Philippine bank accounts. It’s only their barya – barya (though in millions) lang mentioned in their pinas accounts. Let’s say out of 100 millions, 80 millions in offshore and 20 millions in pinas accounts, but I’m pretty sure their millions offshore are more than these.

    At this point of time when the FOIA is about to be passed, most of these politicians are already bloody hurrying up to transfer their stolen / ill gotten wealth abroad maybe in the name of the family members, relatives and friends so that in the submission of their SALNs there are hardly millions left in their accounts.

    • Dee says:

      I am pretty sure that the executive branch of the government could lean on FOIA like the US did to go after those who hide their loots and booties overseas. There would be paper and electronic trails for the money being transferred out of the country. The only thing I am concerned about is the S_L_O_W process of repatriation of the ill gotten wealth. It took 20+ years to nab some of the Marcos art work and jewelries so we can expect more of the same-o-same-o in the future.

      • letlet says:

        You have a very positive outlook in recovering the ill gotten wealth stash abroad by our duplicitous and fraudulent politicians How I wish we have the same culture of transparency and accountability like America wherein the paper and electronic trails of the money transferred by these politicians could lead us to, how I wish we have their integrity and honesty, and their mindset in serving their country and the citizens.

        • letlet says:

          You also commented ” I think Filipinos know what is good / bad for them and will not let something that will affect them adversely get passed in the legislature” .I believe our legislature has / had passed so many laws that affect them favourably but so adversely to the interest of the whole citizenry ( common Juan dela Cruz).

          • Dee says:


            I think what is missing is mass pressure. The Americans tell/write/text/e-mail their congressional and senate representatives if they do not wish for a law to be passed. If the rep goes against the constituents’ will, he will sure regret it. I wish Filipino voters have that power. The power to tell their reps, “I voted you in and I can vote you out.”

            How do you think Filipinos could have that power over elected officials? My idea will take time, but I think educating the future voters should be a part of the school curriculum. Americans have Civics classes which teach them about the rights and responsibilities of good citizenry. I know the Philippines’ equivalent of this course is Social Studies. Do they teach about Philippine Constitution, the governmental hierarchy, and good citizenship in that course? I believe that teaching future voters what their vote means will keep them from selling it.

  10. dgreater1 says:

    You people are so out of date about the Marcos Wealth. How about watching POWERHOUSE July 9, 2013, Mel Tiangco’s Interview with Imelda Marcos and be a little informed. Oh, and by the way, the alleged ill-gotten wealth you keep mumbling about up until now is still ALLEGED that’s why those YELLOW Conspirator couldn’t convict the Marcoses in the US Court and even in the International Court. And by the way, a lot of you have no idea that Ferdinand Marcos has a Last Will and Testament about the wealth and it will go to Pilipino people but it will only happen if the Government is cleansed of corruption which is definitely not going to happen unless you remove the YELLOW Cancer which is dividing the Pilipino people.

    • andrew lim says:

      You people are so out of reality about the Marcos wealth. How about reading your history books and not . Oh and by the way, look at the NYC ruling on Vilma Bautista. You keep mumbling about the ALLEGED INNOCENCE of Marcos yet you cannot explain how they funded their political careers.

      And by the way, Imelda will die and go straight to hell like Ferdinand because she did not repent and make amends to the Filipino people. And by the way, a lot of you have no idea because you did not live during that era and only rely on a few irresponsible adults who want to mislead you. You cannot be enlighthened unless you remove the RED, WHITE AND BLUE mentality of Marcos loyalists like you.

      • dgreater1 says:

        Pfffft… was that your counter arguments? It’s obviously not well thought and not supported by documents and factual events.

        FACT: Imelda Marcos’ FORMER secretary tried to sell Pilipino owned art that was supposed to be displayed in OUR OWN ARTS MUSEUM. So what? Did the case land in front of Imelda Marcos? Was she the one being charged? You’re trying to connect dots that weren’t supposed to be connected and misleading people. The only connection you could make is She’s a FORMER SECRETARY to Imelda Marcos, and other connections can be just unfounded accusations that are so misleading which the YELLOW Power are good at.

        FACT: Their POLITICAL Careers is funded by the PEOPLE who supports them, not to mention, they were still rich after the trial of the century because they won most of their major cases pertaining to the ALLEGED ill-gotten wealth and that’s recorded in US Court and the International Court and there are tons of factual documents about it. Cannot explain, huh? Well, NEWS FLASH, you keep deluding yourself that it cannot be explained. Oh and by the way, you still have no idea about Ferdinand Marcos’ LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT and will keep your mind out of it because you hate supported facts that would vindicate the Marcoses. Heck, you probably didn’t even know about Doy Laurel (another credible source) (Vice President of Cory during her Administration) and his visit to Ferdinand Marcos about his wealth.

        Oh, and by the way, since you’re spouting RED, WHITE, BLUE etc. etc. mind you, let’s put ORANGE as well since I support Erap’s way of handling the City of Manila which is WAY WAY better than Alfredo Lim. Heck, let’s put someone I support as well like Gordon and Duterte since they serve for the PEOPLE and not for the oligarchy. Let’s add Miriam Santiago to the list as well, oh, and don’t forget GIBO Teodoro, a Cojuanco. I bet your thinking now why I chose these people, huh?

        • andrew lim says:

          Obviously you did not read the news report on the ownership of the painting. A secretary owns a Monet? Palusot ka pa. The authorities are clear on that. Read the New York Times and Reuters report on it.

          The people you cited like Doy are not credible to many people, only to you.

          Deluded Marcos loyalist.

          • dgreater1 says:

            Pfffft… Information Overload about some simple facts, eh? Don’t worry, I won’t stoop down to your level anymore. And by the way, LOYALIST are those who’ve been a long time supporter of Marcos. Heck I didn’t even know much about Marcos and all I knew were bullshits about Martial Law as if it was really the Darkest Days until I decided to research more if that’s all there is to it. Heck, the Darkest Days were during Cory’s Brownout Days with Coup here and there because of her OFF SCALE mismanagement and bribery and I’m a first hand witness to it. Oh, and don’t forget today is MENDIOLA MASSACRE ANNIVERSARY, January 22… but of course, Mainstream Media wouldn’t bring that one for Obvious Damage Control since it happened during CORY’s Administration. Also, Doy is a much more Credible person than you or any other YELLOW Poisoned Zombie hahahaha!

            Deluded Poisoned YELLOW Zombie who continues to work hard spreading Poison all over the place. CIAO!

          • andrew lim says:


            I was the one who stooped down to your level, not the other way around. Thanks for giving me an insight by revealing your age, and your altered perception of reality. Stew in your anger.

            You fit the profile – of distraught losers, who find comfort in blaming the national for their pathetic personal lives.

          • dgreater1 says:

            Pfffft… revealed? You’re really making me laugh with all of your assumptions. You’re probably thinking I’m a 90s kid or something, well, I’ll let you wonder about that. Oh, and yeah, blaming the national, eh? You’re pulling my leg again, huh? Hahahaha! I’m targetting the OPPORTUNIST/LIARS/TRAITORS/CORRUPT TO THE BONE YELLOW OLIGARCHY which you will not know because you keep on turning a blind eye on the obvious. Oh, and by the way, you’re the one that needs REALITY CHECKED, You don’t even know what’s really happening and backing up the ones who are the main perpetrator to the crime. Heck, your arguments are weak and totally out of line. Keep Up the Good Work of those DIRTY POLITICIANS. Also, this would really be my last reply to you. Hahaha! You’re no fun arguing and what I mean by that is that your arguments are so shallow replying to you would be just a waste because you’re just like most of those Totally Poisoned Yellow Zombie who listen but don’t understand or try to understand and would accept it as fact without properly thinking about it. CIAO!

            • giorno nomani says:

              instead of doing your “research” online where you’re being fed anonymous blogs and slick videos peddling marcos propaganda for gullible idiots, do yourself a favor and spend your time in libraries where tons of newspapers from the marcos era and prior decades are stacked for real research. it’s going to be a bit dusty but at least it cures long-term idiocy.

    • Jake says:

      Late reply but does not anyone find it that Eastern Visayas is among the POOREST in the Philippines yet Ilocos is fairing better? I saw a map in Rappler a few years ago showing the poverty rate distribution in the country. The Ilocos region, Cordilleras have lower poverty incidences as a whole

      I think the attitude of the locals have to do something. When Parma hit the Cordilleras effectively cutting off the region, the LGU appealed for SPECIFIC needs like shovels, coffin and food. Meanwhile, the Mayor of Tacloban just keep on saying we need “aid”.

      The province of Pangasinan is also flood prone and instances of bad flooding have been occuring yet in a short amount of time, they seem to get back to their feet. And I have hardly heard these peoole whine as much as the mayor of Tacloban who seems all whine, no action. It’s almost 2 years since Haiyan but theyre still “under rehabilitation”?

      The LGU should be investigated

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