Is history repeating itself? Let’s take a look at some parallels in Philippine history — familiar occurrences during the Martial Law era that seem to mirror modern day headlines.
The businessmen Marcos Sr. showered with favors came to be known as Marcos “cronies.” They lacked accountability and were not penalized when they misused the state support given to them. As documents would later show, they reciprocated the favors Marcos extended to them by making him part-owner of their businesses.
These state-sponsored businessmen became very rich indeed despite being supposed to be the antithesis to the traditional rich that Marcos singled out as the enemies of progress, but they were actually worse.
Marcos wasted no time going after the old rich like the Lopez family, whom he identified as the owners of big media, public utilities, mineral concessions, and vast tracts of land. He accused them of joining forces with the communists to sow disorder. In his speech announcing martial law in 1972, he justified his assumption of emergency powers as the state’s legitimate response to a “Left-Right conspiracy” to subvert the duly established government.
Some of Marcos Sr.’s most notable cronies:
Roberto Benedicto – Marcos’ classmate and fraternity brother at the UP Law School; was chairman of the Philippine National Bank; ambassador to Japan, took control of the Philippine Exchange Co. (Philex) which handled all the international trade of sugar for local hacienderos
Antonio Floirendo – close business associate of the Marcoses; benefited by taking control of one of the biggest banana plantations in the world, taking over vast expanses of land while driving away their indigenous inhabitants; initiated a partnership with the Bureau of Prisons to enlist prisoners as laborers in his plantations
Juan Ponce Enrile – key supporter of Marcos in the years leading up to Martial Law and afterward; was appointed to key government positions such as Commissioner of Customs, Secretary of Justice, and then Secretary of Defense; became chairman of key institutions like the Philippine National Bank, the National Investment & Development Corporation, the Philippine Coconut Authority, the United Coconut Planters Bank, and the United Coconut Mills
Danding Cojuangco – entangled with the Marcoses through various close family relationships; was given free rein to practically cultivate his own empire under the Marcos regime; was appointed Ambassador-at-Large, which allowed him to escape testimony in US courts and travel immediately to Mexico with little effort, escaping any accountability and investigation; became one of the richest men in the Philippines under the Marcos regime
Manuel Elizalde – was cabinet minister in charge of ethnic groups; his steel companies were favored in terms of funding and regulations which ensured lucrative markets; allowed to borrow rifle stocks from the Armed Forces of the Philippines to export to Thailand which he simply sold back to the Philippine Constabulary for a profit
Some oligarchs have been out in the open, appearing at Marcos Jr.’s May 9 victory party. Greggy Araneta, the spouse of Irene Marcos, a Philippine senator and the President-elect’s sister, holds executive positions in multiple companies across a range of sectors: Filipino conglomerate Dito CME Holdings, formerly known as ISM Communications, real estate developer Alphaland, LBC Development Bank and Asia International Travel.
Other close Marcos associates include Kevin Tan, son of billionaire Andrew Tan, is the CEO and Vice President of local real estate giant Megaworld, with dozens of real estate ventures across the country. Sabin Aboitiz of Aboitiz Equity Ventures holds substantial investments in power, real estate, banking and biofuel.
Marcos Jr. has named a former chief legal counsel and compliance officer of Aboitiz Power Corp. as chair of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). Manuel “Manny” Bonoan, president of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) Tollways is now the secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Anton Lagdameo (grandson of Antonio Floirendo Sr.), Marcos’ top election donor is now the Special Assistant to the President, while the second top donor Melquiades A. Robles is now the chief of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
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