Marcos’ plundering of the Philippines: A Swiss perspective

From Swiss Illustrated, 1991, entitled “Imelda’s dirty tricks”

by Distant Observer

Why a Swiss perspective?

Every time I discuss politics with supporters of the current Philippine government (let’s just call them DDS) and I would bring up the issue of the money stolen by Ferdinand Marcos during his reign, people would angrily ask: “where is the evidence?” It is curious that such people would take any word spoken by Duterte and his folks at face value, while arguments against him would need to be substantiated by “believable facts”, whatever that means… Anyway, the wealth stolen by the Marcos family continues to haunt Philippine politics and society. And especially now, in the run-up to the 2019 elections, the money spent by the Marcos machinery is of high relevancy. One just has to look at the Instagram account of Bongbong Marcos’ chief troll to see how well one can live off it. All of this while accusing the “dilawans” of hypocrisy. Sometimes I can hardly stand the irony of that.

After Marcos was ousted, the subsequent Aquino administration looked into the matter as soon as possible and tried to rectify the situation by creating the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG). The PCGG uncovered a lot of activities by the Marcos family, however, its findings and reports were and still are oftentimes disputed by Marcos loyalists and DDS. But there is another source of information that is independent from Philippine politics: Switzerland, the well-know piggy bank of the Marcoses and other dynastic dictatorships around the world. Even if you do not trust the Cory Aquino administration and suspect it of “smearing” the Marcos family, you should be able to accept the Swiss government as a neutral information source. After all, Swiss people would not really care about whether the Philippines is governed by a politician named Marcos or Aquino. That is why I looked into Swiss governmental documents, newspaper articles and blog entries concerned with the matter.

The Swiss handling of Marcos’ assets

Between the mid-1990s and 2013, Switzerland had transferred back 1.7 billion swiss franks (about 1.66 US Dollar at current exchange rate) to countries such as the Philippines (Ferdinand Marcos), Peru (Vladimiro Montesinos) and Nigeria (Sani Abacha). The World Bank estimates that in the same time period, there were about four to five billion USD of refunded assets worldwide.

Switzerland was first confronted with the problem of dictator money after the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos. The handling of the case served as the blueprint for all following legislation concerning “asset recovery” from Swiss banks to predominantly developing countries in the global south. When Marcos was ousted in 1986, the Swiss government, out of a concern about reputation damage, reacted within hours to freeze all known assets of the Marcos regime in Swiss financial intermediaries. After long penal proceedings (in total 60 different rulings from the Swiss Federal Court), 685 million USD of those frozen assets were finally refunded to the Philippines.

These numbers already indicate what big of a deal the Marcos fortune was for Switzerland: more than 40% of all the refunded dictatorship assets came from the Philippines, while Switzerland itself was a big player in this world wide effort to recover plundered dictatorship money. Only the case of Sani and Abba Abacha from Nigeria was of a similar dimension. All this money on the other hand, concerns only the known assets of the Marcos family and it is clear that there are still countless bank accounts, foundations, businesses and real estates out there, which still are controlled and owned by the Marcoses in disguise. One should remember the criminal energy they exhibited when trying to hide their stolen fortune from the Filipino people. Award No. 123 II 595 by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland lists all the assets of the following foundations and corporations, which were identified as owned by the Marcoses:

As managed by the Swiss Bank Corporation (predecessor of UBS) in Geneva:

  • Maler 1 Foundation
  • Maler 2 Foundation
  • Arelma Incorporated

As managed by the Swiss Bank Corporation in Fribourg:

  • Aguamina Corporation
  • Rosalys Foundation

As managed by the Swiss Credit Institution (predecessor of Credit Suisse) in Zurich:

  • Palmy Foundation
  • Avertina Foundation
  • Vibur Foundation

It is characteristic that the Marcoses did not only “diversify” their assets in different banks, but also in different financial entities and even geographically across different cities in Switzerland. From there, Swiss and Liechtensteinian bankers invested these “foundation” assets across the world: from Australian Deutsche Mark bonds, to shares in Swiss stock market titles such as Ciba-Geigy or Philips, to American titles from Atlantic Richfield or American Natural Gas traded on Wall Street, to commodity titles in Sydney and industrial titles in Tokyo. Not to mention the real estates in New York.

In a brochure by the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs titled “No Dirty Money”, the hours of the decision to freeze the Marcos assets are described as follows:

On the evening of 24 March 1986, the Swiss government was meeting with the president of Finland, in Bern on a state visit. Just as the hosts and guests were toasting the excellent relations between their two countries, a senior official pulled the Swiss foreign minister discreetly aside. A Swiss bank had just called him, the senior official reported. Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos had deposited more than USD 200 million there. One hour earlier a representative of the couple had ordered the funds transferred abroad immediately. The bank could not refuse — unless the transaction was prohibited on the spot. There was no time to waste. In the midst of the state visit, the foreign minister unobtrusively passed the information on to his six fellow federal councilors in a corner of the room. And the Swiss government took a far-reaching decision: it ordered a freeze on all of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos’ assets to thwart their withdrawal and lay the foundations for a criminal investigation into the source of the funds. It based its action on the Federal Constitution, which authorizes the government to take the necessary decisions in “safeguarding the interests of the country”. It was a historic decision. Just a few years earlier the Swiss government had refused to freeze the assets of the deposed Shah of Iran.

After this first reaction, the Swiss Federal Council urged the government of Cory Aquino to issue an official mutual judicial assistance procedure. On this matter, the Aquino government hired three prominent Swiss lawyers. One of them, Moritz Leuenberger, would later become member of the Swiss Federal Council, the collective head of state of the Swiss Confederation.

Bongbong’s plausible deniability problem

Plausible deniability is the ability of people (typically senior officials in a formal or informal chain of command) to deny knowledge of or responsibility for any damnable actions committed by others in an organizational hierarchy because of a lack of evidence that can confirm their participation, even if they were personally involved in or at least willfully ignorant of the actions (from Wikipedia). A Google search for “Bongbong Marcos denies” leads to about 650’000 search results while googling for “Bongbong Marcos acknowledges” turns out about 290’000 results. This simple number-comparison is indicative of a larger phenomenon in Filipino politics: the Marcoses are very strong in denying, not so strong in acknowledging.

There is a piece by Marites Vitug (What Bongbong Marcos knew of Swiss deposits) which, based on the accounts of banker Michael de Guzman, describes nicely the Marcoses activities in Switzerland and how it is certain that Bongbong was aware of what he did back then. I won’t regurgitate what she wrote and it is well worth the time to read her article. Credit Suisse’s Ernst Scheller, Bongbong’s main Swiss banking contact and guy who probably informed the Swiss authorities about the Marcoses intention to withdraw their assets in 1986, appears to have deceased last year. Which illustrates the fact that, regardless of the political will from the side of the Philippine government, it becomes increasingly difficult to recover more from Marcos’ plundered money. Which also leads me to the last point:

What one can do

What can the political opposition in the Philippines do? What can members of The Society of Honor do?

The Marcos heirs cannot plausibly deny the knowledge of their father’s plundering of their country. They should be continuously called out on it and put in situations where they have to explain themselves. Do not let yourselves be bedazzled by Bongbong’s fancy hairdo and calm smile; he is the son of a thief of global proportions and thrived on it. The same is true for Bongbong’s mother and sisters.

Be aware of the immense wealth still owned by Marcos family. The assets stolen from the Filipino people are far from completely recovered, and considering the current political situation, there won’t be any real efforts to do that any time soon. To the contrary, efforts to swing the political discourse away from Marcoses’ crimes will continue, as their pockets are almost bottomless.

Keep the conversation about the Marcoses’ plundering going: the incredible amounts of assets stolen from the Filipino people are obviously lacking now. Imagine what one could do if these assets were recovered completely and used in a responsible manner. Even in the current situation: it still may be permitted to dream!

 

Comments
90 Responses to “Marcos’ plundering of the Philippines: A Swiss perspective”
  1. karlgarcia says:

    I thought Distant Observer is a Swiss banker.

  2. edgar lores says:

    *****
    Thank you for this update of the Marcos plunder.

    The efforts to whitewash the Marcos image are unending.

    o The Dictator now rests on the hollowed ground of the LMB
    o Bongbong almost recaptured Malacañang.
    o Imee is forging another path to the Palace via the Senate.
    o The third generation is about to consolidate their hold on Ilocos Norte.

    The roots of the dynasty — never having been uprooted in the Russian tsarist way — have been replanted in the fertile Philippine soil.

    Imee is the one to watch. She is the true heir to Marcos pere. She is the Marcos blade unsheathed.
    *****

    • distant observer says:

      Thanks Edgar. I know I couldn’t teach you and the other regulars of TSOH much new information about the Marcoses. My goal of this piece was more to encourage to think about the plundering from an international angle, to reiterate the importance of it in the wake of the elections, and to provoke questions such as the one from Andres 2018.

      Thanks for the emphasis that Imee is the one to watch.

  3. chemrock says:

    Imee Marcos :

    “What we told the President was, we will give whatever help my family can for the recovery of the ill-gotten wealth which we have no idea about and was supposedly taken by the PCGG and kept by other people.”

    “Sa amin naman, napaka-simple lang. Kung ano ang maitutulong namin sa presidente, gagawin namin dahil nainiwala kami sa kanyang administrasyon.”

    (This is simple for us. Whatever help we can give the President, we will give because we believe in his administration.)

    What a freaking insult and a damnation to Filipino intelligence.

    Filipinos better believe God is not dead so you have divine justice to see them burn in Hell.

    • “Filipino intelligence” – where? Definitely not where they have a huge intelligence budget.

      Whether the rest is a sufficient critical mass, or whether it has mostly diffused after the middle class exodus from 1970 onwards – that remains to be seen on Monday, because the coming regime will stamp even that rest out, as it threatens their “vision” of total power.

  4. caliphman says:

    There was a time when I believed that Filipinos willingly supported and chose the most corrupt and unfit leaders because of ignorance, lack of intellect, political immaturity, selfishness, apathy, feudal culture, etcetera, etcetera. But it is now with utter dismay, that whatever the reason and how ruinuous to the country these choices might be, I have come to accept that this is how a free democracy is supposed to work and that Filipinos have the right and deserve to pick the hellish government leaders they want. It is clear that Philippine democracy historically may not be the best fit given the political preferences of Filipinos as a whole, but perhaps the latter may evolve for the better in the future unless the people themselves or the current regime dismantles the remaining trappings of democracy and installs a lasting dictatorship. As an alienated countryman living abroad, the temptation is to be indifferent to the senate elections next week given what the polls say, but I have but one overseas ballot and want to make sure that single bullet counts.

    WordPress.com / Gravatar.com

    • distant observer says:

      “It is clear that Philippine democracy historically may not be the best fit given the political preferences of Filipinos as a whole, but perhaps the latter may evolve for the better in the future unless the people themselves or the current regime dismantles the remaining trappings of democracy and installs a lasting dictatorship.”

      Let me alter that a little:
      “It is clear that liberal democracy historically may not be the best fit given the political preferences of people as a whole, but perhaps the latter may evolve for the better in the future unless the people themselves or the current regime dismantles the remaining trappings of democracy and installs a lasting dictatorship.”

      Or as Churchill famously said: “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

      I wouldn’t say that Filipinos are anti-democratic per se. After all, Ferdinand Marcos was deposed by popular uprising. However, we are not in the late 1980s. What we are facing now is the foreign interference of a world power which was imperial for thousand of years. The Chinese promote many things, democracy is certainly not one of it.

  5. Bong and Imee remind me of Cersei and Jaime Lannister. Is there a Tyrion Lannister???

    You’ll be proud to know that Arya knifed the Night King using Filipino martial arts,
    https://www.inverse.com/article/55655-game-of-thrones-season-8-battle-of-winterfell-how-maisie-williams-trained-in-filipino-martial-arts

    There is hope. 😉

  6. Micha says:

    The PCGG should have compelled Marcos lackeys like Cesar Virata, Jaime Laya, Roberto Ongpin and others to testify. Those are people who have inside knowledge on how the plunder and money laundering was enabled.

    The loot was most probably taken from what the Marcoses believed as their entitled cuts on foreign loans obtained from the IMF, World Bank and other international financial institutions.

    International bankers dangled those loans to third world countries to leverage influence on policies regarding international trade and capital movement. When the spigot was turned off and repayment obligation commenced, the unsuspecting dictator suddenly found himself in trouble. Those were essentially sub-prime loans but with a sovereign guarantee.

  7. Andres 2018 says:

    If the PCGG indeed recovered Php200B of Marcos’ ill gotten wealth, id like to know where is it now?

    • A good question. Poking around reveals that the agency has historically been poorly run and even engaged in corruption itself, among leadership. This 2016 article recites a few of the problems.

      https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/05/30/1588424/pcgg-hit-failure-dispose-ill-gotten-wealth

      “The disposal of surrendered properties in the PCGG’s annual privatization plan was not attained due to lack of management policy and definite timelines to undertake them, including some dating as far back as 1986, the Commission on Audit (COA) said in a 2015 report released yesterday.

      State auditors said the failure to dispose of recovered assets resulted in failure to fully implement the PCGG’s mandate to provide funds for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.”

      So the funds are SUPPOSED to be used for agrarian reform.

      • chemrock says:

        Nothing works in Philippines. A lot of recovered money is still lying somewhere. As what Imee Marcos said, they said they recovered some money where is it? Andres was just quoting Imee. Perhaps Andres should ask Imee what’s here offshore account balance .

        Nothing works in Philippines. Been donkey years after the Bangladesh Central bank stolen money. The Bangladeshis are still begging for the return of the money that was recovered. Compare to the US. Last year they took action against JLow who masterminded the Malaysian Prime Minister ‘s financial skulduggery that plundered billions of Malaysian taxpayers. This year, they are in the process of returning US$200 million back to the new Malaysian govt.

        • I think there is a lot of incompetence in a government that features relationships rather than skills. I do think there were some agencies running well during the Aquino term. They were focused on output. Roads built, classrooms, and so forth. Customs was not among the well-run agencies. And I still don’t know about Abaya, fact from troll’s characterizations.

        • A part of the proceeds from selling Imelda’s paintings I think was distributed to human rights victims, but Calida blocked the rest.

          I think Ruben Carranza is one person to ask for details, Raissa Robles also.

          • “What can the political opposition in the Philippines do? What can members of The Society of Honor do?” Nothing.

            “The Marcos heirs cannot plausibly deny the knowledge of their father’s plundering of their country.” They can, and they have.

            Like Jesus said, “It is finished”.

            Once it’s integrated, it’s done, time’s up. Sorry.

            It’s all politics from here on out. If the Marcos’ are the Lannisters (always pays their debt), the DU30s are the Targaryans early on, newcomers to Westeros; sadly, there are no Starks in sight.

            IF Sara DU30 orders “Dracarys!!!!” ; Can Cersei Marcos, errr Lannister stop her??? You need a Stark family, and no the Aquinos are not that, nor the Roxas (due to Korina).

            Are the Quezons viable still??? a Visayan family. Googling powerful Filipino families, most are in private sector or show biz, no more powerful political families really.

            • https://www.osmenaforcongress.com/

              Wrong seat; wrong party… but another viable family.

              • You are on track LCPL_X: check out Tommy Osmeña of Cebu and how they are harrassing him.

                https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2846694012037441&id=165696286803907

                (he is a major ally of VP Leni I think)

              • so he’s anti-DU30 then??? I like the fact that he posted his personal number on his fb, i’m sure not really his personal, but the notion that anyone can just call, accessibility and responsiveness, is in the end what got DU30 elected.

                Will keep an eye out for this guy. thanks!

              • TYRION: We made a deal long ago.
                Do you remember?

                BRONN: If anyone offered me money to kill you, you’d pay me double.
                What’s double Riverrun? Highgarden.

                JAIME: You could be Lord of the Reach.
                – Highgarden? Are you mad?

                TYRION: It’s better than being dead.
                He’s not going to kill us.
                He wouldn’t be talking to us if–

                BRONN: The way I see it, I only need one of the Lannister brothers alive.

                TYRION: Highgarden will never belong to a cutthroat.

                BRONN: No? Who were your ancestors, the ones who made your family rich? Fancy lads in silk? They were f$cking cutthroats.

                That’s how all the great houses started, isn’t it? With a hard bastard who was good at killing people.

                Kill a few hundred people, they make you a lord.
                Kill a few thousand, they make you king.

                And then all your c#%ksucking grandsons can ruin the family with their c#%ksucking ways.

                Highgarden.

                Give me your word.

                None of this means a thing until we take King’s Landing.

                ###

                Ireneo, this all reminds me of what Bronn told Tyrion and Jaime last week. Do the Osmena’s have a strong 3rd/4th generation? or are they a bunch of fancy lads in silk. I doubt Imee can stop Sara DU30.

            • Okay, just got done Googling this whole Mayor Osmena vs. Col Garma stuff, essentially Garma is DU30’s girl in Cebu,

              https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/in-depth/213918-cebu-city-police-chief-royina-garma-profile

              But her origin story is what’s interesting:

              “In 2005, Garma was in the middle of a sex scandal that rocked Davao City.

              Chief Inspector Roland Vilela, the head of the city’s police anti-vice unit, had been accused of raping a minor sex worker. The girl, only 17 years old, was said to have asked Vilela for help to sue her aunt who forced her into prostitution.

              Instead of helping the girl file a complaint, Vilela allegedly holed her up in a hotel and penetrated her twice in a single night.

              “He took advantage of a child,” said Garma, then the wife of Vilela.

              The tragedy was not just that her husband was accused of a crime he was tasked to prevent, but Garma – then known as an officer of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) whose advocacy was to protect women and children – was completely blindsided. She still stood by Vilela.

              “Husband ko siya eh (It’s because he’s my husband),” Garma said. Even if she doubted him, she still loved him.

              It was neither a good place nor time to be accused as a scalawag cop, as the mayor then was the unforgiving Rodrigo Duterte, who wanted Vilela exiled not just out of the city, but out of the Davao Region.

              Garma knocked at the door of the mayor’s office and “nakihangyo (pleaded).”

              “I went to the mayor, I cried to the mayor, I was like a child.” Garma recalled asking the mayor, “’Wag mo siyang ire-assign, i-relieve mo na lang siya or kahit i-floating mo na lang siya.” (Don’t re-assign him, just relieve him or put him on floating status.)

              A cop Duterte had known to deliver in the CIDG, especially in anti-drugs operations, Garma was granted her plea.

              Two years later, Vilela abused Garma’s trust once more.

              This time, it was caught on tape and, even without the internet, quickly spread across the city. This time, Garma did not plead with Duterte. She let her husband get sacked. She then filed for the annulment of their marriage.

              It was the end of her marriage to Vilela, but the beginning of her friendship with Duterte.

              From thereon, she said, she had gone to Duterte for other personal problems. The mayor became the shoulder she could cry on.

              They saw less of each other when Duterte moved up to Malacañang and she was assigned to Cebu City.

              ###

              The secret to her success in the service, Garma said, was the support of the Dutertes.

              “They trust the police, and then they will ask you, ‘What do you need?’ They will provide everything, and they don’t intervene [in police operations]. If we need them to intervene, they’re ready anytime,” Garma said.

              This support, Garma said, came to her despite not knowing Duterte before her assignment in Davao City. Garma is not a native of Davao, but hails from the northern province of Cagayan.

              “We are very fortunate, we who are assigned to Davao City, because we are not exposed to that (politicizing cops). So our career grew to a very professional [level]. And we were given the opportunity to bloom on our own,” Garma said.

              It’s a stark contrast to her experience in Cebu City, she said, where locals are divided on their support for cops.

              She is not on speaking terms with her mayor, Tommy Osmeña, who has repeatedly accused the police force she leads as being behind the killings.

              Asked why she thinks Osmeña has been hostile to her, she said, “I’m not his choice.”

              Garma even said she is already itching to leave the post. She has thought of resigning during her first month in office. But she has decided on staying as, according to her, “every police officer’s dream is to have a command.”

              And so she will move forward and continue to talk back to Osmeña. She said she’s on the side of the right. More than that, even if she finds herself cornered, she would always have the man in Malacañang standing by her side. – Rappler.com

              ###

            • distant observer says:

              “What can the political opposition in the Philippines do? What can members of The Society of Honor do?” Nothing.
              – That’s a pretty sad statement IMHO. So what are we still doing here on TSOH? Is this all just mere entertainment for you? I’m rather with what Edgar once said: let TSOH be butterfly wings.

              “The Marcos heirs cannot plausibly deny the knowledge of their father’s plundering of their country.” They can, and they have.
              – Of course they have denied. But the key word here is “plausibly”.

              • do,

                My point is once money integration is finished, it’s finished. If it’s finished, denial is moot. it’s done.

                My “nothing” answer to your first question is for the dirrrty money , but now with DU30’s peeps winning, I guess my “nothing” answer is general. Nothing more can be done here. That’s a landslide!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                Everyone there who can go to Europe or Australia, or can come to North America, should do so, now. Let butterfly wings take you some place else. 😉

              • Andres 2018. says:

                What can the political opposition in the Philippines do?

                – They can wait for 3 years and run again.

                What can members of The Society of Honor do?

                – Continue making statements for discussion.

              • I’m coming to appreciate your view on these matters. You are exactly right. I would add that the opposition should work at becoming more skilled at making noise.

              • distant observer says:

                Lance, I agree with you on the point that, once the plundered money is “integrated” into the global financial system, it is almost impossible to recover it properly. However, that doesn’t change the fact that this money was stolen and that the Marcos family should be haunted by that fact. Of course, for now the DU30 peeps are winning, but sooner or later the pendulum will swing again into another direction. Not even DU30’s overlords, the Communist Party of China, is invincible. Hence their paranoia concerning everything that even resembles the smell of democratic ideas.

                Abandoning a sinking ship is one way how to deal with the situation. Trying to repair holes and setting sails for better horizons another. I would say the ones who could leave, but decide to stay anyway are the real patriotic heroes in this story.

    • karlgarcia says:

      It said here Customs and treasury erred per COA.

      https://www.rappler.com/nation/177680-coa-audit-marcos-loot-2016

      • Why are we still surprised that some Filipinos favor the corrupt?

        Might the thinking be “I got what I needed” (for instance, a fire truck from my sister city, say Makati) – never mind a bit of pilferage, to hell with government money that never arrives!

  8. edgar lores says:

    *****
    With 92% of the votes counted, it’s a SHUTOUT.
    *****

    • I’m reminded of the circus I saw as a kid where a little blue and yellow taxi chugs out to the center ring, stops, and about 24 clowns emerge, dancing about tooting horns and doing cartwheels.

      • Micha says:

        It’s not just a circus, both houses of congress will now rubber stamp Dutertism.

        • It’s exciting, isn’t it, that the nation can now move forward, unified, with no do-gooder liberals or bothersome human rights advocates in the way? The path is clear, loyalty to the President is now a mandate, and one only has to find one’s rightful place in the stacking order, from Mainlanders on top to Lumads and clams at the bottom.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Duterte will be a lame duck after a year when the top vote getters will make their
          move for the presidency, all non popular bills not passed within a year will go to the back burner for later refilling.

          • True. Poe is already making her move, separating herself from the Administration. The key question is whether or not a new Constitution and government can be rammed into existence. Someone wrote that is not a given, as the Senate is not lackeys to Duterte, but are more stoked by self-interest.

          • Micha says:

            Like a lame duck Duterte is suppose to be good? What prevents him now to resurrect cha-cha and federalism and install Sarah or Marcos Junior as successor?

            • karlgarcia says:

              If I base it on the budget delay, personal interests remains strong.
              This where I would agree with you that the moneyed people even if they little in number, they are big on cash to support their bets which maybe survey results driven or someone who will make their dreams come true.
              If chacha is bad for business then bye bye chacha.

              But the Train law might prove me wrong because I do not see how it could be good for business, but I guess the potential to be players in build build and tourism outweighed the loss in after tax revenue.

      • edgar lores says:

        *****
        The wisdom of the crowd seems to be:

        “We have not suffered enough. Let us go in deeper into the darkness. We have not reached bottom.”
        *****

        • I think it is more an appreciation of someone who says “fuck you” to the conventions that are not doing so much for them.

          • Emmanuel J says:

            Hi Joe. The funny irony of it is that with the latest election results, people like me — soft-spoken, courteous, fair-skinned, slightly taller than average, eloquent in both Tagalog and English, proficient and respected in my profession, known for my integrity; and, perhaps stereotypically, a progressive opposition voter — people like me will have a much better chance of navigating within the bureaucracy of this government.

            All I have to do is keep quiet about my political leanings.

            The middle-class, well-off Duterte supporter? I still have an edge over them in the real world. I can empathize and connect and reason better; I am not burdened by their anti-adik, antipoor prejudices.

            I can connect better with traffic cops because respect is second nature to me. DDS tend to be rash, judgmental, bigoted, jump to conclusions, impatient. One only has to read how they assess situations in social media.

            I can write and negotiate my way out of trouble, with nuance and sympathy. Because I am not a xenophobe who says to foreigners, “wag ka makialam, di ka tagarito mabahong bumbay!”

            The DDS do not know what they’ve bargained for. Until when will YOU be safe, my DDS friend?

            • Yes, nicely put. My situation is similar in that it is easy to stay out of politics and hang at the beach resorts enjoying a san mig and the fiesta mood. But the back alleys and farmlands remain barren of hope and opportunity. It will stay a struggle and violent place. When voters cannot connect dots, they produce a rather ugly scribble of ink.

          • edgar lores says:

            *****
            I agree the vote was not in anger this time… if it ever was before.

            The vote is out of — let’s call it — identification with the profaner.

            Nevertheless, the supporters must know, at the back of their minds, that this will not do much for them, that this will not end well. This path, not being the path to the rule of law, is the path to self-injury.
            *****

    • NHerrera says:

      PRESERVING MY SANITY

      Regarding the Senatorial Election Result, I am preserving my sanity by venting away in another form or, more precisely, not venting away to preserve my normal BP.

      I get the 2019 unofficial senatorial election results from a Rappler online report as of May 14, 2019, 10:54 AM with 94.26% precincts reporting:

      https://ph.rappler.com/elections/2019/race/Philippines/1/Senator/3/year/2019

      With the above reference as my basis, I performed some arithmetical calculations. Past statistics, if I recall right from reading SWS senatorial election results, gives the average number of senatorial candidates selected by the Filipino voter as about 8.

      The total number of votes of the 62 senatorial candidates is 348,258,845. My reference Rappler online report gives the voter turnout as 45,335,584 [out of 63,662,481 registered]. Thus the number 348,258,845 corresponds to the turnout 45,335,584.

      A simple division of 348,258,845 by 45,335,584 yields the number 7.68 or roughly 8 consistent with past results. This one simple statistics does not imply everything is hunky-dory but if the number is wildly out of the number 8, such as 11 then something is amiss. The voter turnout is about 71%, also consistent with previous such results.

      More trivia: as of the time of that Rappler report, we have:

      Estrada JV Ejercito placing 13th
      Jinggoy Estrada placing 15th
      Juan Ponce Enrile placing 22th

      The magic of Erap has faded. And the voters at least is right in voting out old old (senile?) Enrile. Of course we recall Jinggoy and Enrile immediate pasts — their Pork Barrel “fame.”

  9. Sup says:

    May 13 the new foolsday instead of april 1

  10. chemrock says:

    So sad Larry Gadon is out of the running.
    Sadder still Lorraine Badoy, Persida Acosta, Robin Padilla, Mocha Uson are not running. Would be great had all of them got into the Senate.

    Long live Philippines.

    A fuck up Philippines is good for the rest of Asean. More direct FDI for the rest of us.

    See you Philippines, as Thailand and Indonesia past you by. Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam has long gone past you.

    For those looking to immigrate, Europe welcomes you.

    • karlgarcia says:

      China and Japan are looking for OFWs if we still have any competitive advantage left in addition to f a crash course in Mandarin and Nipongo our neighbors will take those jobs from us both high paying and the not so high paying jobs.

    • Your statement represents the rather cynical, bitter side of the picture. But I didn’t come to the Philippines to find an American suburb. I came to find the exotica of a people marching to their own beat and a lifestyle that represents a challenge. The challenge has become rather onerous now, but it still beats driving the 405 freeway and wondering why so much metal is dedicated to individual drivers, one by one.

      • Here’s an idea, Joe. Obviously the fight is over. No more talk of civility and rule of law, and all those aspirations— since no one wants it in the Philippines.

        Do what Forrest Fenn did. Get Filipinos to chase something else. I know Yamashita’s gold is a big deal over there, but this is more of a fun treasure hunt, solving it with nothing more than some good hiking boots, a compass and a map.

        Give ’em something to find, Joe. 😉

        “The hunt started in 2011 when a Santa Fe antiquities dealer named Forrest Fenn self-published a memoir titled “The Thrill of the Chase” containing a poem that he claimed, if solved, would lead to the “end of his rainbow and the treasure.” More specifically, a small bronze chest filled with riches hidden in the U.S. Rocky Mountains, somewhere from Canada to New Mexico.

        The poem spawned an entire cottage industry devoted to the hunt, sending tens of thousands into the wilderness to search with hopes high. Yet, in the eight years since, the chest has not been found. Why not?

        Because, if you actually solve his poem, your reward is not a treasure chest – no, your prize instead is a mea culpa from the author himself. And it’s “hidden but not buried,” as Fenn put it, in plain sight. So obvious, in fact, that all you have to do is take a good, hard look at a single lonely line in his poem.

        The fateful line is: “But tarry scant with marvel gaze.

        This phrase is the most obscure in the entire piece, as well as the clue most Fenn hunters gloss over, a product of its intentionally confusing design. It is almost universally translated as “delay little with amazed look.”

        Yet that interpretation is merely a fancy, nonsensical way of saying “look quickly” – which is already in the previous line of the poem and is actually one of the many clues pointing (directly) to the “tarry scant” line.”

        • FORREST FENN DOESN’T own a watch, a cell phone, or a GPS. “I am not ready for the 21st century,” he told me. When I visited him one sunny afternoon last April, he didn’t seem to be much like a man for the 20th century either. He’s 87, with wispy white hair and inquisitive eyes. His favored outfit is blue jeans, a belt with an ornate turquoise buckle, and Hush Puppies shoes. He lives on a couple acres of land in a sprawling home on the Santa Fe Trail. American Indian artifacts and Western curios line his walls: buffalo skulls, arrowheads, moccasins, and original paintings by the masters of the frontier. “Ralph Lauren came here and tried to buy that headdress,” Fenn said, pointing to one in a feathered row hanging in his study. As with most of Fenn’s stories, it’s hard to know what to believe. As he admits in his self-published memoir, The Thrill of the Chase, “one of my natural instincts is to embellish just a little.”

          Fenn grew up in Temple, Texas, and still carries the soft twang of the Lone Star State. Though his father was the headmaster of his grade school, he sometimes played hooky, hunting for arrowheads in nearby creek beds. “When the sun was out, the smell of freedom was more than I could resist,” he wrote in his memoir. He spent his summers working as a fishing guide in West Yellowstone, Montana, where his family had a cabin. After graduating from Temple High School in 1947 and marrying his high school sweetheart, Peggy Jean Proctor, he joined the Air Force. He flew hundreds of missions in Vietnam and was twice shot down, earning a Silver Star and Purple Heart.

          Fenn returned home on Christmas Eve, 1968, and retired from the Air Force two years later. He had been interested in American Indian artifacts since childhood, and he decided to make himself into an art and antiques dealer. In 1972, using the $12,000 annual stipend he received as retirement pay, Fenn moved his family to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and bought an adobe home, where he turned the ground floor into a gallery. Fenn made up for his lack of experience with a showman’s streak. Noticing that competing galleries took out small black-and-white ads in local newspapers, he spent $3,000 on a full-page color notice in Architectural Digest.

          Over the next several months, then years, he slowly grew stronger, and in 1993 he was declared cancer-free. After being homebound by his disease for years, Fenn was overcome with a renewed appreciation for nature and an urgent sense of purpose. “We need to get off the couch, out of the game room, and away from our electronic gadgets,” he says. He now saw his hunt as a way to entice people into the wild.

          Late at night, alone in his artifact-­laden study, he tweaked and revised his poem. Finally, in 2010, long after he first hatched the idea, he was satisfied. He acquired a 10- by 10-inch bronze treasure chest and filled it with emeralds, rubies, diamonds, and gold coins he’d collected over the years at gun shows and auctions. He added two gold nuggets from Alaska, “as large as chicken eggs,” he says, as well as an old Navajo bracelet with 22 prehistoric turquoise disc beads inlaid in silver.

          One summer afternoon that year, Fenn drove into the Rockies—for how far and how long, he won’t say—with the chest and the treasure in the trunk of his sedan. He made two trips to his destination. First, he loaded the empty, approximately 20-pound bronze box into a backpack and lugged it into the mountains, breathing heavily. He stashed it in a spot dear to his heart. Then he returned with the gold and jewels and filled the chest. “I was entering into strange territory in my mind,” he recalls. He walked back to his car feeling giddy about what he’d done. “I said in a loud voice, ‘Forrest Fenn, did you really do that?’ ” he says. “No one was around, and I started laughing.”

          In the fall of 2010, Fenn commenced the treasure hunt with the publication of The Thrill of the Chase, which includes his completed poem. The 24 lines contain nine clues to the chest’s location, “in the mountains somewhere north of Santa Fe,” he says.”

          https://www.wired.com/story/forrest-fenn-treasure-online-mystery/

        • I’ve bought two properties in the Philippines. The agent for both hinted that treasure might be buried there. I think most of the nation has already been dug up looking for it.

          • The poem IMHO makes all the difference in this hunt. Plus you already have the whole Forrest Fenn clout, Joe. 😉 p.s.— hide your treasure(s) where it will be most inconvenient for China (and their minions). LoL!

        • chemrock says:

          Yamashita’s gold-

          I knock my brother on the head.

          He narrated a long time ago, his elderly boss, Taiwanese owner of a finance company my brother worked for, gave my brother a piece of very old hand drawn map. He told my brother he got it from his associates some old Japanese officers. It was reputedly a map of Yamashita’s gold. For years they could not figure the map out. There were no references of any sort. It’s a localised mapping but without references it’s impossible to understand it.

          My bro had his hands full with work and he just put it aside and forgot all about it. The paper is now lost.

          Just a though that with google map, it may now be possible to make sense of the map.

        • chemp,

          Totally agree. With Google earth, their satellite and terrain features (there are some maps also based on Google maps that have sunshade algorithm, gives you a good idea of where shadows fall as the sun moves in the sky).

          Yamashita’s gold the clues are either already lost or invented ( a whole cottage industry). Fenn’s treasure the clues are still intact, just difficult to decipher , but there’s enough in the guy’s bio to shed some light.

          Google maps saves money, you research possible spots virtually, then and only when you have enough info, take a week or wkend road trip, do 3 to 5 spots per trip. Repeat.

          For example, IMHO Fenn’s treasure will be here, he was 80 years old and has a home in Jackson,

          For Yamashita’s gold, a terrain map of the end of WWII should be consulted, personally I think US troops already took it, all melted and now in Ft. Knox. The gems ironically would ‘ve also ended up in the Southwest (maybe Fenn’s shop in Sante Fe, NM).

          Here,

  11. caliphman says:

    I doubt now that the overwhelming vote for Duterte and now his senatorial slate was due to anger and frustration with traditional Philippine politics or form of governance. Filipiinos are not against democracy but the value of life, liberty, equal and human rights, as well as a government that is clean and commited to serving the public is on the whole of very little interest to them. So much for Otso Diretso , Roxas and election platform that espouses these TSOH preferred and supposedly enightened values as these time and again as these offer little or no traction with the Filipino electorate. Instead the election today was a sweeping public testament and affirmation of blind trust in the dictatorial and no legal holds barred leadership of Duterte. One would have to be very naive not to see that Duterte will take it as a mandate to eventually seize absolute power and a signal to other political aspirants to be a Dutertist desciple and to support his agenda i hey are at all to thrive in office.

    Be afraid, be very afraid and try to keep your head down deep in your Philippine foxholes if you must stay in country. For this election may have unleashed the hounds of hell with Go, Bato, Imee, and all the other corrupt felons who were swept in under Duterte’s banner who will be waiting in the wings with the demise of a Duterte dynasty. What is different from the hellish scenes in a Bosch or Breughel painting where tortured souls are flleeing the torments of their demon masters is in this case it is the Filipino masses cheering on and following in blind lockstep their chosen demonic leadership down into an abyss of tyranny and misery.

    • Well said. Few realize this yet for now. It could be far worse than the Marcos era.

    • I tend to think that the straight path message does have traction but not when it is overwhelmed by the noise from a lot of money, sophisticated marketing, and a willingness to cheat (Bong Go’s various shenanigans). The Administration had a broad, aggressive marketing plan, the straight shooters just went around together to a few of places. It was the largest giant against the tiniest Tom Thumb. I would not be so hard on Filipinos myself, but I’d be hard on the weak marketing effort of the straight shooters.

    • edgar lores says:

      *****
      1. There are two kinds of people. People with kindness and people without.

      2. For people without, the doing of evil — or the avoidance of doing good — is not sufficient. No, they must add insult to injury, salt the wound, and twist the knife. There is almost no self-imposed limit to what they can do… except perhaps the limits of their imagination.

      3. For people with, the doing of the good — or the avoidance of doing evil — is sufficient. They are happy to lend a hand, glad to be of service, and seek no reward. There is a self-imposed limit to what they do… unless they seek martyrdom.

      4. Duterte and his ilk are of the first kind. Expect no mercy,
      *****

    • Emmanuel J says:

      It was anger and frustration, but against personalities, not against a brand of politics or style of governance.

      It was mostly FABRICATED anger via social media. The propagandists were and are ruthless with their historical revisionism and villain-making.

      After a while, the DDS ceased to care whether things were true or not. I just read a comment a few days ago that went something like: “pareho lang namang may gawa-gawang istorya ang dilawan at maka Duterte. Pero at least yung ginagawa nila Mocha para sa bayan.” This is not an isolated sentiment, as I would find out. They are resistant to facts.

  12. madlanglupa says:

    Offtopic: new season of the Keystone Kops coming this June:

  13. caliphman says:

    One does not need to have an MBA in marketing degree from Harvard or Stanford to understand that s political consumer at core may have multiple different prioritized needs and a sales or messaging pitch for a product or service will most likely fail. It is not a slight against the Filipino people that these needs do not mirror what others perceive is the intelligent or politically mature choice for them and their country. They elected Magsaysay not because of the CIA but like Duterte he came across as a powerful face, voice, and hero of the masses; Erap, Cory; Noynoy, and Poe for theiir celebrity and legacy; etcetera etcetera. These are the connected dots that emerge again and again and to shoehorn a list of preferences that validates ones values but not what the masses have historically wanted is sheer folly. It is what it is but at the end of the day is far better to realize what is happening, build a better national future based on what is politically achievable, or unless you are already on distant shores, live as a political stranger in a strange land.

    • Maybe it’s just too much democracy for the Philippines.

      it’s the tyranny of the majority. Over here the curb for that is the Electoral College. which worked perfectly in 2016 for Trump— though the minority were not the landed and wealthy, nor the educated.

      Because of what happened in 2016, the Democrats are forced to focus now on turning those states whose electoral votes now count, where it did not factor in before.

  14. caliphman says:

    Lance, there are similarities between the Duterte and Trump situations but we here do not have with an overwhelmingly popular administration and our midtern senatoriall electilons show that voters here have different priorities other than blindly supporting a powerful president and whimsical tweets.

    • True dat.

      karl said above that DU30 will be lame duck, others will begin pushing and pulling their way, especially Imee Marcos. 2022 will be Imee vs. Sara. If DU30 from here on out will just prop up Sara, then lame duckiness will not matter really, his consolidation is complete, Otso folks got shut out— like they were lepers.

      The question now is who is the lesser evil here, caliphman, Imee or Sara. Poe I don’t see factoring in if its a girl-on-girl event, meaning a girl-on-girl-on-girl scenario is unlikely, Poe will be stale.

      May the best girl win. one’s old , one’s new. My money’s on Sara. born May 31, 1978. I bet Filipino millennials will like her, no one younger.

      • p.s. — between Tagalogs (Ilocanos too) and Visayans, Visayans don’t tend to do the above with parents’ hand, most usually just their grandparents’. Northerners tend to do this for everyone, parents, aunts/uncles, family friends, etc. etc. they love doing this, conditioned; Visayans only reserve it for old folks, respect.

        This isn’t your regular mano po, this is more like You will be me successor blessing. This is done for public consumption, for show for the Northerners. amin in Visayans language.

        • sonny says:

          Looks like all depends now where PH falls on US-pragmatics scale, nec plus nec minus. (no more, no less)

          • karlgarcia says:

            What does Nec Nec mo.mean?
            Tough luck or simply no?

            • sonny says:

              Neph, used to be when Filipinos & Americans had mutual preferential considerations for each other because of historic ties. Given the PH pivot towards China, the special PH-US bonds are no more. Only self-interest prevails, “no more nor less” (for emphasis)

      • karlgarcia says:

        I only said the lame duck part. I do not wish for that scenario not even in a runoff elections.
        I think Bong Go will be the proxy of Digong, but I could be wrong.

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