Since the news about Secretary Jesse Robredo’s plane crash happened, memories and reflections have been dancing around in my head. I hoped I would not have had to write this. I hoped I would save these memories for another day, with many more added to them. But on this sad day when a country mourns for one of its quiet heroes – a hero who did his work without fireworks or fanfare – I’ve got to let this out.

Jesse Roberdo

When I first started at IPD, then Mayor Jesse was an icon. He had transformed Naga City from a sad face of misgovernance into a first class, economically booming city. He successfully implemented participatory budgeting, he had drastically reduced the urban poor population and provided security of tenure to thousands of families, and he was not tied to a political dynasty – all core components of our vision of a participatory democracy that prioritizes the dignity of the poor. He was the symbol that we could do it. He was the living archetype we wanted to emulate and reproduce. If only we could develop and install Mayor Jesses all over the Philippines.

When I quit my job in DC to join the Noy-Mar campaign, I had no idea Mayor Jesse was head of the political unit until my first day at the office. I’m not one to get starstruck, but I was really excited to finally meet in person the man that I had looked up to for so long. When I finally did see him, my reaction was “ganyan lang pala?” Hindi naman dahil wala siyang dating, pero hindi siya katulad ng mga iba na they would expect everyone to stop what they were doing and greet him as soon as he entered a room. He acted as though, despite all his accomplishments, he didn’t consider himself “mahalagang tao.” Humble at simpleng tao lang talaga. Mayor Jesse could slip in and out of the various rooms at Parc House and, unless he wanted to talk to you or you were looking for him, barely be noticed – except that he was taller than 95% of the staff. He was not about getting attention. He was about getting work done.

I had only fleeting interaction with Mayor Jess until late in the campaign when groundwork became the more important focus. I remember my first ops with him in Mindanao – at first he didn’t want me to go. He didn’t really know me and so was reluctant to spend campaign money when he wasn’t sure what my value-added would be. I secured outside funding and went along anyway. Once we got on the ground I too was a bit nervous that I didn’t actually bring any value-added, and that despite really wanting to impress him, I wouldn’t be able to. Halfway into breakfast, however, we were both surprised to realize that I was a repository of some information he needed, but had not had a chance to collect. That was all it took. He was at once genuinely receptive of my input and the information I had to bring. As a young woman in a very masculine and classist political world, I am used to being (and seeing other women be) patronized, politely waved away, or resented because of seeming to come out of nowhere and then talking out of place – like a kid sitting at the adult table. Mayor Jess was not like that. He was open to hearing ideas and advice from new sources, no matter how old you were or what you looked like. He was never too proud to turn down help offered by earnest and able people. In this way he was the opposite of so many mga mayabang na pulitiko.

I remember my first visit to his office less than a month after he became Secretary Jesse Robredo of DILG. His office’s somber yet overwhelming blue color seemed to reflect his mood. Sec. Jesse was in charge of a massive portfolio that would put him in the line of fire of some of the most powerful and dangerous figures in the Philippines. The department at that time still had plenty of holdovers from the previous administration, and so he did not yet know who he could trust and who would be out to get him – a point emphasized by how he carefully and purposefully closed the door after we entered his office. Jueteng and ARMM were the two most important points on the agenda that day, and perhaps two of the most complicated, most intimidating areas any government official could take on, let alone a new Secretary taking the reigns after almost ten years of an administration that had used the DILG to coddle criminal syndicates. He was nervous, and he had every right to be. But, he was determined, and somehow seemed to be creating energy against the dictates of reason. My friend (who incidentally is also currently dying of a sudden unforeseen cause) and I agreed that we would supplement his efforts in any way we could. If anyone had the world thrown against him, it was Sec. Jesse. If anyone could make a major change in how a crucial government line agency runs, it was Sec. Jesse. If anyone deserved our utmost support, it was Sec. Jesse.

And so when I think of Sec. Jesse, I think of someone who served tirelessly and asked for nothing in return. I think of someone who, while we pat ourselves on the back as we wrestle with ideological and theoretical debates, was accomplishing tangible outcomes. Someone who remained righteous, smart, and grounded, despite 15 years in a political game that ruined many others. Someone who achieved the dream of simultaneously pursuing progressive policies, delivering real economic growth and social services, and being successful in a world of realpolitik.

I also think of the great irony that someone who was such a fighter, who survived so many battles, was killed in a freak plane accident. I think how ironic it is that so many snakes well into their 70s and 80s still continue to rape the Philippines, while Sec. Jesse, who still had so much more to give, was lost at age 54.

Right now a lot of people are talking about destiny. When it’s your time, it’s your time, they say. Well, I have always said that we make our own destiny. I’m amending that now. Sometimes we also have to make the destiny of others. Sa ang dameng beses na tinanong ko “bakit siya, ano ba ang meaning nito?” I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s up to us to decide what this means. We choose to give this meaning. We have to use this event to work harder, think better, love stronger, and fight until victory. It’s now up to us to fulfill the destiny of Sec. Jesse.


As I sit on yet another all-too-familiar 14 hour flight (which, by the way, I paid for my damn self and categorically deny that I ever made any statement to the contrary) a myriad of disturbing ideas ricochet around my head as if banging on my cranial walls, resulting in a massive headache. For someone so used to the immediate cathartic release of honest to goodness conflict, that these thoughts keep banging around in my head with nowhere to go (like when you point a bottle rocket to your enemy’s crib only to realize you forgot to roll down the car window first) raises my heartbeat and agitates my breath. All this is a long and maarte way of saying I can’t fucking sleep. Some people have been asking why I don’t blog anymore. It never fails to amaze me that people actually read this thing. So why not.

After my first stint in the wacky world of Philippine politics many moons ago I came to two major realizations that I intended to put down in a reflection peice. I never quite got around to writing that peice but every time I go back my two realizations are enforced. I guess now is as good a time as any to take a stab at draft 1.


I am a socialist. I do not believe in status, title, or heirarchy, which perpetuate inequality, repress dynamism, and restrict access to the means of both material and intellectual production. As a result I have been told multiple times, by multiple and disparate people, that I don’t know my place. Hindi ako marunong lumugar. To that I answer, “Thank you. Hindi talaga.” If I knew “my place,” I could have easily ended up a teenage mother, someone in and out of jail for petty drug offenses, and maybe eventually ended up enrolling in community college in hopes of eventual stable work (self-fulfilling work not at all a consideration) once I all too late realized the mistakes of my adolescence and my lost opportunities. Ok, that describes a minorty of my peers from my neighborhood (though a substantial minority), but to be sure, if I knew “my place” I was fated to live a not at all remarkable life, 5/7 of which would be wasted yessuh- and yess’m-ing some uppity asshole who felt entitled to my humiliation because of the color of his and her skin and the contour of my eyes.

That is a place I refuse. With great skill I learned to be angry and defiant. I learned to hide the neighborhood slang and speak “proper English” so that I would be taken seriously in academic and later professiomal settings. Yet, I always make sure to slip in the swagger every now and then just to break the stereotype and prove a point. I would shake with anger at the world when my mother would hide in the back at my school events because she wasn’t white and we weren’t rich and she was wearing old clothes while the other mothers wore designer jeans, eventhough their only accomplishment in life was being born or marrying into the right class. I would shake with anger when in college, other students laughed when I brought up the shooting of one of our own. I decried how the media quickly portrayed him first as a gangster, part of that distant subculture wrought with violence, and only secondly, if at all, as a victim of a senseless crime. It didn’t matter that the young father had no criminal record or history of violence. His murder was treated as entertainment. My classmates literally laughed out loud when I breached the topic. For them, such things were just expected. It was our place to just accept 60% of us would be dead or in jail before 30. It was their place to laugh about it.

It is with this knowledge and these experiences that I not only rejected the false markers of status, title, and heirarchy, but became determined to break them. It was this rejection and determination that drove me to become a socialist. My socialist ethos was reinforced and nurtured at IPD where, at least during my time, we celebrated the ideal of a flat organization. The first words Joel said to me were, “The most important rule at IPD is everytime you say ‘po’ you have to contribute 200 pesos to the community beer fund.”

But my identity as a socialist is not only rooted in my vehement rejection of status and heirarchy. It’s also rooted in the simple but powerful fact that I believe in luck and the powerful role it plays in everything. It was a mere accident of luck that my father was born to a camote vendor while a friend’s father was born to a doctor. My father began working as a driver and mechanic when he was 14 while my friend’s father, despite ample resources and private university, was rejected from all medical schools he applied to in the US and ended up paying to go to a second-rate medical school in Mexico. My friend’s father ended up becoming a doctor and has spent the better part of his life practicing medicine for 6 hours a day, 3 days a week and playing golf in the balance. My father remined a mechanic and welder until he retired, with books and books of design sketches that never went anywhere because he doesn’t have a formal engineering degree. The powers that be would have us believe that their disparate outcomes are because the doctor was more intelligent and hard-working, basically that he deserved it and my father didn’t. I do not believe that. I believe it was luck.

This viewpoint was exponentially reinforced when I came to the Philippines. It is in the Philippines that I learned to dabble in socialite circles. Where I wine and dine in exclusive restaurants and hotels with people whose names can be found written in our history books and painted on the biggest commercial and industrial sites in the country and around the world. I see these people, I talk to them, and I often find myself wishing they had half the insight as the simple kasama I had casual beers with the night before at the usual bar. One is thoroughly unimpressive while the other is thoroughly humbling. Yet, one shits wads of 1,000 peso bills while other moves from racket to racket in a game to balance maintaining decent livelihood while still contributing to the movement. That unfortunate circumstance can be attributed to luck.

Perhaps most reinforcing, however, is the obvious fact that luck is not lost on me. One too many of my childhood peers became that single teenage mother and although I was angry and defiant and refused to let the low expectations society projected on me determine my future, luck played not a small roll in the fact that I didn’t become that single mother. Why have I gotten all the opportunities I have, and so quickly? Is it because I deserve it, I’m just that good? I dont’t believe that. There are plenty of people out there, there must be, who could blow me out if the water. I’m here because of luck. Because a series of truly great people were willing to take a chance on me, and I, as anyone in my position with half a brain would, made myself available to soak up all the knowledge, experience, and training I possibly could, and still pushed myself to take in more. The luck, on my part is that people, again, took a chance, invested in me and brought me up when they had no real reason to think I’d be worth anything. Or maybe the luck is in the convergence of teachers looking for students, a student looking for teachers, and timing when the supply of new recruits isn’t exactly overflowing. In any case, I am well aware that I don’t deserve this. But now that I’m here I’ll do all that I can to justify my teachers and the cause. I am a socialist and as a socialist I do not believe in working for myself.

I’ve just come from a series of lectures on transitional justice and collective memory and healing – it’s kind of shocking to realize not only has the Philippines not gone through this, but is swinging in the complete opposite direction! Instead of a museum about the dictatorship and its abuses to make sure we never forget and repeat, Marcos goes in a hall of heroes museum??

Galit na galit ako na hanggang ngayon buhay pa mga kasinungalingan niya. Lest we forget:


The New York Times
January 23, 1986, Thursday, Late City Final Edition

BYLINE: By The following article is based on reporting by Jeff Gerth and Joel Brinkley and was written by Mr. Gerth.Special to the New York Times

SECTION: Section A; Page 1, Column 1; Foreign Desk

LENGTH: 3213 words


The Army concluded after World War II that claims by Ferdinand E. Marcos that he had led a guerrilla resistance unit during the Japanese occupation of his country were ”fraudulent” and ”absurd.”

Throughout his political career, Mr. Marcos, now President of the Philippines, has portrayed himself as a heroic guerrilla leader, and the image has been central to his political appeal.

In almost every speech throughout his current re-election campaign, including at least one this week, Mr. Marcos has referred to his war record and guerrilla experiences in part to show that he is better able than his opponent, Corazon C. Aquino, to handle the present Communist insurgency.

Questions Go Unanswered

But documents that had rested out of public view in United States Government archives for 35 years show that repeated Army investigations found no foundation for Mr. Marcos’s claims that he led a guerrilla force called Ang Mga Maharlika in military operations against Japanese forces from 1942 to 1944.

Mr. Marcos declined today to respond to six written questions about the United States Government records, which came to light only recently. The questions were submitted to Mr. Marcos’s office this morning in Manila.

After repeated telephone calls to the Presidential Palace this afternoon, an aide explained that Mr. Marcos was busy with meetings and a campaign appearance and ”didn’t have the opportunity to look into the question.” The aide said the President might have a response later.

In the Army records, Mr. Marcos wrote that he strongly protested the Army’s findings, adding that ”a grave injustice has been committed against many officers and men” of the unit.

Since Mr. Marcos became President in 1965, the Government-owned broadcasting network, the main north-south highway on the island of Luzon and a hall in the Presidential Palace all have been named Maharlika – the name means Noble Men – in honor of the unit. In 1978, the Philippine National Assembly considered renaming the nation Maharlika.

Recognition Is Denied

Between 1945 and 1948 various Army officers rejected Mr. Marcos’s two requests for official recognition of the unit, calling his claims distorted, exaggerated, fraudulent, contradictory and absurd. Army investigators finally concluded that Maharlika was a fictitious creation and that ”no such unit ever existed” as a guerrilla organization during the war.

In addition, the United States Veterans’ Administration, helped by the Philippine Army, found in 1950 that some people who had claimed membership in Maharlika – pronounced mah-HAHR-lick-kuh – had actually been committing ”atrocities” against Filipino civilians rather than fighting the Japanese and had engaged in what the V.A. called ”nefarious activity,” including selling contraband to the enemy. The records include no direct evidence linking Mr. Marcos to those activities.

The records, many of which were classified secret until 1958, were on file at the Army records center in St. Louis until they were donated to the National Archives in Washington in November 1984. In 1983, a Filipino opposition figure asked for access to them a few weeks after the assassination in Manila that August of the opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino Jr., but the Army refused to let him see them.

Alfred W. McCoy, a historian, discovered the documents among hundreds of thousands of others several months ago while at the National Archives researching a book on World War II in the Philippines. Dr. McCoy was granted the access normally accorded to scholars, and when he came upon the the Maharlika files he was allowed to review and copy them along with others. Archives officials did not learn what the documents contained until after they were copied Richard J. Kessler, a scholar on the Philippines at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, said, ”Marcos’s military record was one of the central factors in his developing a political power base.”

A War Hero at Home

In the Philippines, the 68-year-old Mr. Marcos is widely described as the nation’s most decorated war hero. The Philippine Government says he won 32 medals for heroism during World War II, including two from the United States Army. Two of the medals were for his activities as a guerrilla leader, but the rest were for exploits before the United States surrender in 1942 or after the return of United States forces to Luzon, the main Philippine island, in 1945.

The validity of those medals has been challenged by Philippine and American journalists as well as others. In response, the Philippine Government has vigorously contended that they were properly earned and said the records validating them were destroyed in a fire. When the Philippine newspaper We Forum published an article in 1982 questioning Mr. Marcos’s war record, Government authorities shut the paper down.

The issue of Mr. Marcos’s medals is not addressed in the Army records.

Like thousands of other Filipinos, immediately after the war Mr. Marcos asked the Army to recognize his unit so that he and others could receive back pay and benefits. In his petitions, Mr. Marcoscertified that his unit had engaged in numerous armed clashes with the Japanese, sabotage and intelligence gathering throughout a vast region of Luzon and had been the pre-eminent guerrilla force on the island.

In his submissions, he offered widely varying accounts of Maharlika’s membership, from 300 men at one point to 8,300 at another. In the years since, Mr. Marcos has said Maharlika was a force of 8,200 men.

Some Claims Recognized

Shortly after the war, the Army did recognize the claims of 111 men who were listed on the Maharlika roster submitted by Mr. Marcos, but their recognition was only for their services with American forces after the invasion of Luzon in January 1945. One document says the service that Mr. Marcos and 23 other men listed as Maharlika members gave to the First Cavalry Division in the spring of 1945 was ”of limited military value.”

The Army records include conflicting statements on whether the United States intended to recognize the 111 men as individuals or as a Maharlika unit attached to American forces after the invasion. It is clear throughout the records that at no time did the Army recognize that any unit designating itself as Maharlika ever existed as a guerrilla force in the years of the Japanese occupation, 1942 to 1945.

The records are a small part of a voluminous file containing more than one million documents on military activities in the Philippines during and after World War II. Approximately 400 pages deal with matters relating to the Government’s investigations of Mr. Marcos and his claims.

Dr. McCoy, an American professor of history at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, said he was ”stunned” when he found the records last summer. He said he worked with the records by himself until this month. He brought them to the attention of The New York Times last week.

The records were reviewed at the Archives, where officials confirmed their authenticity. In addition, several former American military officers who played important roles in the events described in the records were interviewed.

These officers served in the Philippines during the war, supervising Filipino guerrillas in the areas where Mr. Marcos said his unit had operated. Even though most of them say they are strong supporters of Mr. Marcos today – one, Robert B. Lapham of Sun City, Ariz., said he spent 90 minutes with Mr. Marcos while in Manila last week -the officers also confirmed the basic findings in the records and said they had not been aware of Maharlika’s activities during the war. They also said they had not known of Mr. Marcos as a guerrilla leader until they read his claims later.

‘This Is Not True’

Ray C. Hunt Jr., a 66-year-old former Army captain who directed guerrilla activites in Pangasinan Province north of Manila during the war, said: ”Marcos was never the leader of a large guerrilla organization, no way. Nothing like that could have happened without my knowledge.”

Mr. Hunt, interviewed at his home in Orlando, Fla., said he took no position in the current Phillipine election campaign, although he believed Mr. Marcos ”may be the lesser of two evils.”

Still, as he read through the records for the first time, including Mr. Marcos’s own description of Maharlika’s wartime activities, he said: ”This is not true, no. Holy cow. All of this is a complete fabrication. It’s a cock-and-bull story.”

The documents, the latest of which are dated in the early 1950’s, include no indication that Mr. Marcos appealed the Army’s final ruling against him in 1948. The last entry in the Maharlika file was an affirmation of the rejection.

Today Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard L. Armitage, the senior Pentagon official in charge of military relations with the Philippines, said his aides had been unable to find any record that the original Army decision denying benefits to Maharlika had been challenged or investigated after the 1948 ruling. ”Subsequent to ’48 I am unaware of any further appeals,” he said.

Donna St. John, a spokesman for the Veterans’ Administration, said, ”We’re not paying any benefits to Ferdinand Marcos.”

As commanding officer of the unit, Mr. Marcos applied for United States Government recognition of his guerrilla force in the summer of 1945. To support the application, he included a 29-page typed document entitled ”Ang Mga Maharlika – Its History in Brief.”

It says that the unit was ”spawned from the dragging pain and ignominy” of the Bataan death march and that its members ”grew such a hatred of the enemy as could be quenched with his blood alone.”

Exploits Are Described

Most of the document is written in the third person and describes a variety of exploits by Maharlika and Mr. Marcos, who was in his twenties at the time. ”It seemed as if the Japanese were after him alone and not after anyone else,” it says at one point, referring to Mr. Marcos. The author is never identified, but in two places he lapses into the first person in discussing Mr. Marcos’s exploits, indicating the writer was Mr. Marcos.

The history and other submissions from Mr. Marcos say Maharlika was officially organized in December 1942 but had been operating for several months before that. It carried out guerrilla operations throughout Luzon and even published an underground guerrilla newspaper three times a day, Mr. Marcos wrote.

Membership rosters submitted with the filings listed the names of more than 300 Maharlika members. But Mr. Marcos included no documents or copies of the Maharlika newspaper to support the claim because, he wrote, all documentary evidence was ”lost due to continuous searches by the Japanese.” Elsewhere, Mr. Marcos wrote that some of the unit’s records were burned and others were buried.

The official records indicate that the Army grew suspicious of Mr. Marcos’s claims right away. Mr. Marcos contended that he had been in a northern province ”in the first days of December 1944 on an intelligence mission” and was not able to get back to Maharlika headquarters at that time because the American invasion force on Luzon cut him off from Manila.

But in the first recorded response to Mr. Marcos’s recognition request, in September 1945, Maj. Harry McKenzie of the Army noted that the American invasion of Luzon had not actually begun until a month later and ”could not have influenced his abandoning his outfit.”

As a result, Major McKenzie suggested an ”inquiry into the veracity” of Mr. Marcos’s claims. And almost two years later, the Army wrote Mr. Marcos to notify him of the official finding that his application for recognition ”is not favorably considered.”

Why the U.S. Said No

The official notice cited these reasons, among others:

* Maharlika had not actually been in the field fighting the Japanese and had not ”contributed materially to the eventual defeat of the enemy.”

* Maharlika had no ”definite organization” and ”adequate records were not maintained.”

* Maharlika was not controlled adequately ”because of the desertion of its commanding officer,” Mr. Marcos, who eventually joined an American military unit while in northern Luzon at the time of the American invasion.

* Maharlika could not possibly have operated over the wide area it claimed because of problems of terrain, communications and Japanese ”antiresistance activities.”

* ”Many members apparently lived at home, supporting their families by means of farming or other civilian pursuits and assisted the guerrilla unit on a part-time basis only.”

Although the Army did recognize 111 people listed on Mr. Marcos’s Maharlika roster for their service to American forces after January 1945, the nature of that service is not fully described. But one document, dated May 31, 1945, says 6 officers and 18 men led by Mr. Marcos and indentifying themselves as Maharlika had ”been employed by this unit,” the Army’s First Cavalry Division, ”guarding the regimental supply dump and performing warehousing details.” Their work, the document added, was ”of limited military value.”

In his brief history, Mr. Marcos describes his service to the First Cavalry this way: Members of Maharlika ”furnished intelligence and were used for patrolling by this unit until the operations in Manila ended. They participated in the crossing of the Pasig River.”

Mr. Marcos was just one of thousands of Filipinos who asked the United States Army for recognition as a guerrilla. After the Japanese occupation of the Phillipines in 1942, the United States had promised that any Filipinos who continued fighting the Japanese would get back pay and benefits after the war as if they had been members of the American military.

Served at Bataan

Japan mounted a surprise attack on the islands in December 1941 and quickly conquered them. It was not until 1944 and 1945, that United States and Filipino forces won them back. Not long afterward, on July 4, 1946, the islands gained their final independence from the United States as the Republic of the Philippines.

At the time of the Japanese invasion, Mr. Marcos was a lieutenant in the Philippine armed forces and part of the contingent driven back into the Bataan Peninsula. Mr. Marcos has said his fighting delayed the surrender at Bataan for several weeks.

After the American surrender, he was imprisoned by the Japanese, but escaped. For his efforts during the Bataan campaign of January 1942, Mr. Marcos was awarded numerous medals, apparently including two from the United States, but not until many years later.

It was after the Bataan campaign, Mr. Marcos wrote, that Maharlika was formed.

In 1982 and 1983 journalists in the Philippines and the United States, as well as Representative Lane Evans, Democrat of Illinois, tried to determine the validity of the American awards to Mr. Marcos,including the two Bataan-related medals. The Pentagon, in replying in 1984 to Mr. Evans, noted that no official ”citations for these awards” could be found, but ”they were both attested to in affidavits by the Assistant Chief of Staff” of the Philippine Army.

Whether or not the American medals are valid, they had nothing to do with Mr. Marcos’s activities during the Japanese occupation.

After the war, roughly 500,000 Filipinos were recognized and paid as guerrilla fighters. But uncounted others were turned down.

Mr. Marcos’s claim was investigated in the same manner as the others. Affidavits were taken from dozens of American and Filipino military officers, enlisted men and civilians. In addition, investigators studied documentary evidence, including wartime intelligence reports, looking for references to Maharlika’s work.

After he was turned down, Mr. Marcos asked for reconsideration. An Army captain, Elbert R. Curtis, inquired further but concluded that ”the immensity” of Mr. Marcos’s claim that Maharlika served over the entire island of Luzon was ”absurd.”

After checking intelligence records, Captain Curtis wrote that there was no mention of Maharlika being a source of intelligence information. He wrote that the unit roster was a fabrication, that ”no such unit ever existed” and that Mr. Marcos’s claims about Maharlika were ”fraudulent,” ”preposterous” and ”a malicious criminal act.”

Another Army document said Maharlika ”possessed no arms prior to the arrival of the Americans” despite Mr. Marcos’ claim that the unit had 474 assorted weapons and 3,825 rounds of ammunition. The second investigation concluded that ”it is quite obvious that Marcos did not exercise any control over a guerrilla organization prior to liberation” in January 1945.

Although there is no record that Mr. Marcos filed any further objections to those 1948 findings, another Filipino, Cipriano S. Allas, who was listed as a senior Maharlika officer, wrote the Army in 1947 asking for reconsideration of the unit. That request was denied, too.

Mr. Allas said he had commanded Maharlika’s intelligence section. But numerous American officers and Filipinos who were interviewed by Army, Veterans’ Administration and Philippine investigators said Mr. Allas and some of his men had in fact been selling commodities to the Japanese during the war.

In a 1947 Army document titled ”Report on Ang Mga Maharlika,” Lieut. William D. MacMillan wrote that two American officers, including Mr. Lapham, and one Filipino officer had told investigators that ”they had heard” Mr. Marcos’s name ”in connection with the buy and sell activities of certain people,” referring to the black-market sales to the Japanese, but that the three had added that they had no firm information about Mr. Marcos.

In a file titled ”Guerrilla Bandits and Black Marketeers,” a Philippine Army document concluded that Mr. Allas and several other men listed on the Maharlika roster ”engaged themselves in the purchases and sale of steel cables,” an important wartime commodity, to the Japanese.

‘What a Farce!’

A United States Veterans’ Administration investigation concluded that some men who claimed membership in Maharlika and another organization were ”hoodlums” who had committed ”atrocities” and were ”tied together only for nefarious reasons.”

One man who said he was a member of Maharlika told investigators that the unit ”had committed themselves to trafficking in the sale of critical war materials to the brutal enemy,” the report said, ”but only to provide means of watching that enemy.”

”What a farce!” the V.A. investigator concluded.

None of the former officers interviewed this week said they remembered any involvement by Mr. Marcos in the black-market activities or abuses of civilians.

Mr. Hunt said he met Mr. Marcos only once during the war, sometime in 1944. A Filipino military officer ”brought him into my guerrilla headquarters,” Mr. Hunt recalled. ”He was barefoot, unarmed. We talked for 15 or 20 minutes about this or that. He was never identified to me as a guerrilla, and we didn’t talk about guerrilla activities.”

”I had no further contact with him,” Mr. Hunt added, ”and I didn’t hear anything more about him.”


The Washington Post
March 14, 1986, Friday, Final Edition
Marcos Funds Reported in Swiss Account

BYLINE: Washington Post Foreign Service

SECTION: First Section; A33

LENGTH: 233 words

DATELINE: MANILA, March 13, 1986

A member of the government commission investigating the “ill-gotten wealth” of deposed president Ferdinand Marcos said today that Marcos controlled an $800 million Swiss bank account, the state-run television reported.

The commission member, Ramon Diaz, declined to disclose details.

The commission also ordered the Philippine Central Bank to halt all financial transactions today in the names of 33 Marcos family members and close associates. Commission member Raul Daza declined to estimate the amount of money involved.

[A local newspaper, the Manila Times, quoted an unidentified source on the commission as saying that among documents found in the palace was correspondence between Marcos and unidentified Swiss banks, including code names and account records of deposits totaling between $2.5 billion and $3 billion, The Associated Press reported.]

Among the 33 whose accounts were frozen by the Central Bank today were: Marcos and his wife, Imelda; Marcos’ son, Ferdinand Jr.; Marcos’ daughter, Imee Marcos, and husband, Tommy Manotoc; and Imee Marcos’ daughter, Irene Marcos, and son-in-law, Gregorio Araneta. Also included were Gen. Fabian Ver, armed forces chief of staff under Marcos, and Ver’s wife and three sons.

Marcos associates included coconut magnate Eduardo Cojuangco, Antonio Floirendo, who is known as the “banana king,” and sugar baron Roberto Benedicto.


The Times (London)
January 23, 1986, Thursday
Spotlight on Marcos clan in congressional TV drama / Shady property deals alleged against Philippines President (592) /SCT


LENGTH: 644 words

An important congressional hearing has all the ingredients of a prime-time television court-room drama; and a foreign affairs subcommittee’s ruthless exposure of the alleged shady New York property dealings by the family of President Marcos must rate as one of the best.

‘I believe we will be able to show at this hearing that the Marcoses have transported crony capitalism on a colossal scale from Manila to Manhattan,’ the chairman told the crowded committee room and the battery of television cameras. ‘At a time when over half the Filipino people live in poverty .. Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos have secretly led a headlong, multi-billion dollar flight of capital out of their country. ‘

The scene was set, the charges laid. The half-panelled room with its august portraits of distinguished Congressmen, the podium for the inquisitors and their aides, the flag, the police on the door, the press, the table for the witnesses with their bulging document files – all lent traditional dignity.

Congress was doing what it does best: examining, with stylized formality, the ramifications of the Administration’s foreign policy. Should Washington continue to back a regime that owes the world dollars 27 billion, receives dollars 1.25 billion in US aid and yet whose leadership was apparently investing dollars 200 million in American real estate? Was not a President with a salary of dollars 5,700 a year corruply impoverishing millions of his countrymen to pay for his wife’s long Island palace?

The evidence was certainly damning: a US lawyer explained how his Filipino client, a Dr Figueroa, had tried to sue Mrs Marcos and her front men for defrauding him of his share in the building, but had inexplicably withdrawn the million dollar suit fearing for his family’s safety in the Philippines. Another lawyer traced the well-concealed links between various offshore companies, New York property dealers and Imelda Marcos. An official from the General Accounting Office produced tax records linking payment of property taxes to a Philippines United Nations diplomat who looked after MrsMarcos’s personal affairs in the US. Subpoenaed private letters to her palace in Manila, unanswered of course, were read out, urging her to pay her dues on the Lindenmere estate or face embarrassing publicity.

Representative Stephen Solarz, the ambitious and incisive committee chairman with that Perry Mason air of crusading righteousness, led the witnesses through their lines with devastating courtroom coolness. ‘Who told you that?’ ‘Why did he withdraw his suit?’ ‘What did you infer?’ and just as on television, political passions flared up between the examining counsels. ‘One day America will be held accountable: whether we stood silent while the Philippine people went further into debt and Mr Marcos and his family feathered their American nests ..’ declared Mason’s assistant, a liberal representative from New Jersey.

But Hamilton Burger, in reality a passionate right-winger from Wisconsin called Roth, was having none of it. The hearing was a monstrous interference in the Philippines elections; witnesses were opponents of President Marcos misusing a congressional committee to make politics; there was no shred of documentary evidence.

They traded insults and then exchanged elaborate parliamentary courtesies: Would my honourable friend yield .. If my honourable friend would wait he will have the documents .. My honourable friend is entitled to remain unconvinced .. and so on. Mason won on points, with audience gasps and laughter spurring him on. Burger withdrew sulking: ‘I have no questions for this witness. ‘

Mr Solarz, himself from New York, has sunk his teeth into the Marcos family and is drawing blood. Evidence may be circumstantial, but every circumstance is eroding public support here for the Marcosregime.



January 23, 1986 Thursday



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Marcos invested $500m in US property: inquiry WASHINGTON._ A congressional sub-committee yesterday released “”irrefutable evidence” that the Philippines President, Mr Marcos, and his wife had invested at least $500 million in United States real estate. The information showed that a close associate of Mrs Imelda Marcos paid taxes on a $27 million Long Island estate which two lawyers claimed was principally owned by Mrs Marcos. New York Democrat Mr Stephen Solarz, who heads the sub-committee, said the evidence of the Marcos’ property investments in the US was based on tax records and testimony and was “”irrefutable”. The panel released records showing that since 1982 taxes of $86,094 had been paid on a Long Island estate by Vilma Bautista, first secretary at the Philippines mission to the United Nations. Mr Solarz described Bautista as Mrs Marcos’ personal secretary when President Marcos was in the United States. The panel also released letters from New York architect Augusto Camacho to Mrs Marcos seeking payment for services performed at the Long Island estate. President Marcos has repeatedly denied reports of overseas real estate holdings. The inquiry by the House Foreign Affairs sub-committee on Asian and Pacific Affairs is an issue in the Philippines, where Opposition politicians have made corruption a theme in their campaign to win the February 7 election. In Manila, the Opposition presidential candidate, Mrs Corazon Aquino, said she would order a full inquiry in to President Marcos’ foreign investments if she was elected. Mrs Aquino said Mr Marcos “”was still buying and buying” property in the US and elsewhere. In election campaigning yesterday, a presidential spokesman said Mr Marcos would visit the southern island of Mindanao for the first time in more than 10 years today. Mrs Aquino had earlier taunted President Marcos for not having been to Mindanao because it was a rebel stronghold. Yesterday Mrs Aquino campaigned in the north of Mindanao, where Communist and Moslem rebels have been fighting Marcos for more than 15 of the 20 years he has been in power. Meanwhile, the Philippine Government warned foreign embassies yesterday that “”intervention” in the presidential election was illegal and carried jail sentences of one to six years, or deportation. A spokesman said the notices were sent out to the embassies for “”guidance and information” in view of heightened foreign interest in the election. (Reuter)

On the anniversary of a revolution that changed not only a country but how the world wages war for human dignity…


Grad school has given me a chance to see what non-Filipino academics have to say about the EDSA 1 People Power Revolution. Most consider it a case where relatively spontaneous, nonviolent urban demonstrations caused the revolution. As much as I am proud that we basically coined “people power,” I can’t help but feel hurt that the comrades that struggled in the long protracted movement, who suffered in the countryside, and whose sacrifices and deaths helped pave the way for a weakened and delegitimized dictatorship, as well as a better trained and organized inclusive opposition movement are being pushed out of the global EDSA 1 narrative. Para sa mga Nalimutang Bayani: tagay comrade, at manalig kayo na tuloy pa rin tayo.


Quoting Bongbong Marcos and Satur Ocampo to attack Ronald Llamas? Hmm, seems the Marcos-CPP-NDF alliance is still alive, kicking and well-funded.

ARMM polls deferment a wrong move

By Efren L. Danao


OOPS! Wrong move again! I am referring to the announcement of President Benigno Aquino 3rd calling for the postponement of the elections for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) scheduled this coming Aug. 8.

I recall that last year, the President opposed the move in the House and in the Senate, led by Sen. Bongbong Marcos, to postpone the barangay elections, saying he was against the extension of the terms of incumbent barangay officials. Oh well, on the ARMM issue, Malacanang is not for extending the terms of incumbent officials but rather, for their replacement by officers-in-charge (OICs) until their successors shall have been elected in the May 2013 synchronized election. Now, which is worse—term extension or appointment of OICs?
Senator Bongbong is joining several congressmen in opposing the deferment. Bongbong, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, said he saw no reason why the ARMM election should be postponed. Actually, the possible postponement was aired during the time of former Comelec Chairman Jose Melo who feared that they would not be able to lease the PECOS machines in time for the scheduled polls. Without automation, there will be no ARMM elections.

Bongbong said that this is no longer a problem since Comelec already has a savings of P2 billion, and the conduct of the ARMM election and the lease of the automation machines would cost only P1.7 billion. He saw a bigger problem in the chaos that would ensue if the elections for senators, local officials, barangay officials and ARMM officials are synchronized in 2013.

The continued hold of the Ampatuan family in ARMM elections is also no problem according to Bongbong, and I agree. The Ampatuans are no longer invincible. Mangudadatu defeated an Ampatuan in the election for Maguindanao governor in 2010. Unless, of course the real reason goes beyond Malacanang’s alleged fear of the Ampatuans.

Our Malacanang sources revealed that newly-designated political affairs adviser, Ronald Llamas, is behind the Malacañang position for postponing the ARMM elections and appointment of an OIC, and the person he has in mind is former Rep. Hajiv Hataman of the Anak ng Mindanao party list.

Based on a recent press briefing by Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda, the Palace stand on the ARMM polls is not just idle talk. It is included among its 17 legislative priority measures. What? The deferment of the ARMM elections and the concommitant appointment of OICs is of higher priority than the Freedom of Information Act? Wow! Some sense of priority! This guy Llamas must be very influential with Malacanang!

Llamas was president of Akbayan, the party of former senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros Baraquel and Commission on Human Rights Chairman Etta Rosales. Former Rep. Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna had warned that Llamas’ appointment as political affairs adviser could affect the peace talks with the CPP-NDF. Obviously, Satur’s warnings fell on deaf ears.

Lacierda said that under the Palace-sponsored bill, the OICs to be appointed by the President would be people with no political ambitions and would be ineligible to run in the 2013 elections. Hmm, but Hataman is a politician! And he has relatives who are politicians. Will the disqualification include them also?

My sources from Malacañang said that having Hataman as ARMM OIC will give Llamas his own political kingdom. His position, though of Cabinet rank, has no portfolio and the ARMM will surely come in handy for the former student activist

Actually, there is a House bill, authored by Rep. Pangalian Balindong of Lanao dle Sur, seeking to reset the ARMM elections to the second Monday of May 2013. His bill stipulates that all incumbent elected officials of the ARMM shall continue to hold office in a “holdover capacity” until their successors shall have been duly elected.

During a House hearing jointly conducted by the committees on suffrage and on Muslim affairs, Balindong was quoted as saying that should Malacañang insist in appointing OICs, he would withdraw his bill and push for the holding of the ARMM elections on August 8. Balindong would rather have ARMM officials duly elected by the people than Malacañang-appointed officials with no mandate whatsoever.

Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong, a former justice secretary, said it would be unconstitutional for the President to appoint OICs if the ARMM election is postponed. I wonder if Malacañang lawyers knew this. But then, Llamas is no lawyer, and he has the ears of the President on political matters.

Happy birthday JPE
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile will celebrate his birthday anniversary on Monday. Being born on Valentine’s Day is really apt for JPE who once sang “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before” during a party with the Senate media. Hasn’t he been saying “Gusto ko hapi ka?”
Well, JPE has been making us happy so far.

So as usual there are a million other things I should be writing right now, (NSF proposal for example, something that could actually bring me MONEY) but I just really need to think this through…

My first real exposure to philosophy was Popper, aka ducks guy. Popper talks about the philosophy of science, namely that we can never know what the absolute truth is, but we can know what is not true. By knowing more and more about what is not true, we can better approximate the truth. I call him ducks guy because the example he used is that you can see a million white ducks, but you still can’t deduct from that that all ducks are white, because you can never see all ducks that are and that have been and that will be. However, if you see just one black duck, you can deduce that not all ducks are white. Graphically, (and here I enter hardcore nerd land):

If the y axis = our observations, experiments, experiences, arguments or whatever, and the purple line is the truth (because purple makes me happy), then the best we can ever do is have an asymptotic relationship with the truth, that is, approximate it but never reach it.

What has made me think of this recently? Well, we’re doing this whole self-reflexive thing in grad school where we’re considering what is science, particularly what is political science, what is academia and what is the role of an academic. As an activist I insist that my role as an aspiring academic is to find that which is closest to the truth and fight for it.

But of course, “truth” for advocates is necessarily subjective. It requires that we make value judgments about what is more important – about which values should trump others, about what prices are justifiably paid for certain outcomes. It requires us to question what is right, what is good, what is truth, what is our goal. Sometimes I fear that all too often we get caught up in the battle part – in the tactics, in who are our friends and who are our enemies – that it’s too easy to lose sight of the ultimate goal and values that we are fighting for. Well, at least I’ve had those moments…

At the same time that we’ve been having this discussion in grad school, a dear friend has been challenging my utter disdain for postmodernism. Don’t get me wrong, I can easily subscribe to postmodernism as a theory about art (which, according to wikipedia, is how it started), but I think it’s just a cop out if taken as an approach to social or political thought. I mean, for me it’s a cop out – let’s not have the guts to make an actual decision or to take a stand (believe it or not even someone as humble as I am finds it an utterly intimidating act of courage to actually claim that your interpretation is right – but it’s necessary) and lets be too lazy to refute the arguments of others and just claim that everyone’s right and no one has the right to judge each other’s interpretations and yay and daffodils and kumbaya. Yuck. My view of postmodernism in art: art is a dialogue between artist and audience. No one can know the context or content of your conversation so all conversations aka interpretation are valid, and thorough that dialogue comes new interpretations of art that not even the artist intended and it’s all a great exploration. In social studies: there are things that are just wrong. Period. And the things that are wrong have real human consequences aka they can result in real human suffering. And so if we want to do something to work against this suffering we can’t be so hippie and openminded – we have to condemn what is wrong. And while, sure, it is scary because it requires us to make enemies (at least ideological enemies) because we necessarily declare some ideas are wrong, we are also required to, even more intimidating, choose and idea and declare that it is right, because we can’t just be against things – we have to be for something.

And I suppose that’s where the courage comes in. The courage to take a leap of faith and believe that yes, I’m right. But more importantly the ability to not only take criticism but to actively seek it. Here we go: following Popper, I do not believe I know what the truth is but I believe my approximation of the truth is closer than anyone else’s. Why? Not because I don’t think a closer approximation exists, but just because I haven’t found it yet. It’s largely a self-serving approach: My approximation of the truth is A. I believe in A because it’s the best approximation that I know. If I thought that your view, B, was better than A then I would make B my view. But I don’t, I think A is better and so I believe in A. There may be some even better view out there, say X, but I haven’t yet encountered X, or maybe I have encountered it but just don’t understand it yet, and so I still stick to A. BUT, I am always looking for X. I am always recognizing that there is always an X that is closer to the truth than the A that I hold and I am always looking for that X and seeking to understand it. And now the revelation moment: maybe that’s why I love being criticized. Because (again, following Popper) the more I’m proved  wrong the closer I get to the truth. The more I’m challenged the more I learn and the closer I get to X, the closer I get to the purple line. Hm yeah, that sounds about right for now…

The other day, the following conversation randomly ensued between my mother and me. I’m still smarting.

Mom: Did you look for a man while you were in the Philippines?

Me: No.

Mom: Why not?

Me: I’m don’t want to get married.

Mom: You HAVE to get married.

Me: Why?

Mom: You HAVE to.

Me: Ayoko.

Mom: But who will take care of you when you’re old? Lalo na gusto mo mag-istay sa Pilipinas, children take care of their parents there. Here it’s ok because you have pension, but not there.

Me: I want to die young.