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Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Stealing Analysis of the Marcos Regime

Marcos is often listed as one of the world's most corrupt leaders.  In fact, based on this list, which was ultimately sourced from Transparency International's Global Corruption Report, the Philippines has the dubious distinction of having two Philippine Presidents in the top ten most corrupt leaders: #2 Marcos and #10 Erap.

Plunder (In US$ Billions)
Leader Country In Office Low High
Suharto Indonesia 1967 to 1998 $15.000 $35.000
Marcos Philippines 1965 to 1986 $5.000 $10.000
Mobutu Sese Seko Zaire 1965 to 1997 $5.000
Sani Abacha Nigeria 1993 to 1998 $2.000 $5.000
Slobodan Milosevic Serbia/Yugoslavia 1989 to 2000 $1.000
Alberto Fujimori Peru 1990 to 2000 $0.600
Jean-Claude Duvalier Haiti 1971 to 1986 $0.300 $0.800
Pavlo Lazarenko Ukraine 1996 to 1997 $0.114 $0.200
Arnoldo Aleman Nicaragua 1997 to 2002 $0.100
Joseph Estrada Philippines 1998 to 2001 $0.078 $0.080

Some of this wealth was acquired in a few short years.  Some of it was acquired over decades.  Some of it was stolen from relatively small economies.

Given all these factors, which leader stole the most as a percentage share of their respective economies?

The answers might surprise you.  For instance, Suharto of Indonesia, who is estimated to have plundered as much as US$35 billion, is fourth on this list, stealing just 0.56% to 1.32% of his nation's economy.  Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), who stole US$ 5 billion over 32 years, stole the most from his country's economy: an astounding 10.49%, more than three times the second most corrupt leader: Sani Abacha of Nigeria, who stole as much as 3.35% of his nation's GDP.

And Marcos?  Marcos, who ranked number two in terms of absolute amount plundered, was demoted to number three, stealing anywhere from 1.20% to 2.39% of the Philippine economy during his time as President.  Our beloved Erap still ranks as #10, stealing 0.03% of the Philippine economy from mid 1998 to early 2001.

Marcos Plunder as a Share of the Philippine Economy

From the time Marcos became President of the Philippines on December 30, 1965 till the time he fled the country on February 25, 1986, the Philippine economy had a cumulative nominal GDP of US$ 418.311 billion.

If Marcos stole US$ 5 billion, then Marcos stole 1.20% from the country's total output.

If Marcos stole US$ 10 billion, then Marcos stole roughly 2.4% from everything that was produced by the Philippine economy during his years in office.

There are also strong indications that Marcos did much of his stealing after the declaration of Martial Law because, as everyone knows, "absolute power corrupts absolutely."

If this is so, then Marcos stole a bigger share from a slightly smaller pie: US$ 361.530 billion in cumulative GDP from 1973 to 1985.

If he stole US$ 5 billion, then Marcos stole 1.38% of the nation's economy after 1972.

If he stole $10 billion, then he stole as much as 2.77% of the entire Philippine economy during the 13 to 14 years after the declaration of Martial Law.

Marcos Plunder as a Share of Philippine Government Spending

During the Marcos years, the Philippine government racked up at least US$ 40.648 billion in general government consumption expenditures.  In other words, it spent at least US$ 40.648 billion from 1966 to 1985.

If Marcos plundered US$ 5 billion, then this represents 12.30% of all government consumption expenditures during this period.

If Marcos plundered US$10 billion, then he stole almost 25% of total Philippine government spending.

If much of the stealing was done after the declaration of Martial Law, then if he stole US$ 5 billion, he stole 14.39% of all Philippine government consumption expenditures of US$ 34.736 billion.

If he stole US$ 10 billion, then he stole almost a gargantuan 29% of Philippine government spending!

So Marcos' well-deserved reputation as Mr. Ten Percent should really be Mr. Thirty Percent!

How much would Marcos be stealing if he were in power today?

When Marcos left in 1986, the Philippines was a US$ 33.09 billion economy.  As of 2013, the Philippines is so much bigger - a US$ 272.07 billion economy.  In 1986, Philippine government consumption expenditures amounted to just US$ 2.88 billion.  Today, it amounts to US$ 30.37 billion.

In 1986, Nominal GDP per capita in the Philippines was US$ 535.  Today, it's multiples of that: US$ 2,765.

So if Marcos were alive today or if his family were in power today, the Marcoses would be stealing anywhere from 1.20% to 2.77% of the Philippine economy or 12.30% to 28.79% of total Philippine government spending.

If Marcos were to continue stealing from the Philippine economy on the same rapacious scale during his regime, he would be stealing anywhere from a low of US$ 3.3 billion to as high as US $7.5 billion from the Filipino people every year!

If the Marcoses were to incorporate, their annual plunder would easily put them in the top six Philippine corporations in terms of 2013 revenues.  At the high end of US$ 7.5 billion, the Marcoses would rank a distant third to San Miguel Corporation's Top Frontier Investment Holdings (with revenues of US$ 16.7 billion) and ahead of Meralco (with revenues of US$ 7.0 billion).  At the low end of US$ 3.3 billion, they would rank below PLDT (with revenues of US$ 4.0 billion) and slightly above Ayala Corporation (with revenues of US$ 3.2 billion).

In 2013, the Philippine government had general government consumption expenditures of Php 1.282 trillion or US$ 30.368 billion.  In other words, government spending amounted to 11.16% of the entire Philippine economy.  Government spending's share of the economy has climbed significantly since Marcos fled the Philippines in 1986.  During the Marcos years, government spending comprised 9.72% of the economy.  In the post Marcos years (1986 to 2013), government spending has averaged 10.46%.

If Marcos plunders the government treasury at the same rapacious scale during his regime,  his "take" from government spending would be significantly higher than his "take" from plundering the Philippine economy, simply because government spending occupies a larger proportion of the economy now than during his time.

In Peso terms, their annual plunder would amount to Php 157.74 billion (US$ 3.74 billion) to Php 369.21 billion (US $ 8.74 billion).  In contrast, total annual expenditures from the scandalous Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) amounts to only Php 136.75 billion.  The equally scandalous Priority Development Assistance Program (PDAF) amounts to only Php 10.21 billion.  The amounts for DAP and PDAF assume that everything from these current government programs are stolen, which does not seem to be the case, so the actual amount plundered through these programs could be much lower.

How much would the Marcoses be stealing from every Filipino today?  Anywhere from Php 1,403.51 (US$ 33.24) to Php 3,239.78  (US$ 76.72) for every Filipino man, woman, and child every year.  DAP annual disbursements only amount to Php 1,389.83 (US$ 32.91) per person per year.  PDAF annual disbursements are much, much lower than that: only Php 103.76 (US$ 2.46) per person per year.

Data Sources:,

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