Sen. Imee Marcos may have just admitted ownership of at least part of the fabled ill-gotten wealth amassed by her father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who died in exile in 1989.
In doing so, she may have also admitted to a crime as she never disclosed in her statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) the funds deposited abroad in such places as the British Virgin Isles and in Singapore, where she is known to be a frequent visitor.
Last week, the oldest child of the former president who was removed from office via a peaceful revolution in 1986 admitted to having offshore accounts which she said were educational trust funds for her three children.
Her three male children by estranged husband Tommy Manotoc are now adults and Marcos said the trust funds have been all but depleted.
The trust funds were uncovered by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which learned that the three Marcos-Manotoc children were beneficiaries of the Sintra Trust since June 2002.
She said in a local radio interview that it was “no secret” that she was a single mother who raised her three children by herself after her separation from Manotoc, a sportsman and former winning coach in the Philippine Basketball Association as well as one of the country’s top golfers.
She refused to divulge the amount deposited in the three trust funds.
Under Philippine law, however, all government officials must declare their SALN in the years they are in office.
Documents unearthed by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism in 2013 found that Imee Marcos had become a financial advisor to Sintra Trust and two other allied companies, at the same time that she was serving as governor of Ilocos Norte.
She said during the radio interview that it was not necessary to include the trust funds in her SALN because they were not in her name anyway.
But at that time, her three children – Ferdinand Richard Michael Marcos Manotoc, Matthew Joseph Marcos Manotoc, and Fernando Martin ‘Borgy’ Marcos Manotoc – were still minors. Thus, she was the effective owner of the trust funds.
Marcos said she created the trust fund because it was the trend back then.
Of her three sons, Matthew Joseph later became Ilocos Norte governor, while Fernando Martin became a celebrity of sorts by becoming a male model.
Imee is actually the second wife of Manotoc, whose first wife was beauty queen Aurora Pijuan. The former Miss International and the sportsman who also played college basketball for De La Salle College, have a son, sports, and newscaster Tomas Manotoc, now based in the US.
The late dictator and his wife Imelda Marcos are said to have amassed a fortune worth anywhere from US$5 billion to US$10 billion, of which less than US$1 billion has been recovered by the Presidential Commission on Good Government.
US$500 million was recovered from Swiss bank accounts, all in the name of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.
Their largest property in the US, the Lindenmere Estate in New York, has also been recovered by the Philippine government.
Imee Marcos’s admission last week was the first time that any member of the Marcos family has publicly admitted owning foreign bank accounts.
Her brother, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is running for president in the 2022 elections. He has often said that he was never in possession of his father’s hidden wealth, going so far as to say that whoever finds the ill-gotten wealth can keep it.
Their third sibling Irene married into the wealthy Araneta family and has shown no interest in politics.