By Perry Diaz
The hunt for the fabled “Marcos Loot” is beginning to look like an
And after three decades of hunting for the Marcos Loot that began the day the late President Cory Aquino kicked the Marcoses out of power, the hunt is finally coming to an end during the presidency of her only son, . Not that the Marcos Loot has been recovered but that the government had seemingly lost the will to continue the hunt.
Soon after Cory took over power and established a revolutionary government in 1986, she formed the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and mandated it to hunt for the Marcos Loot. Twenty-six years later, the PCGG claimed that it had recovered $5 billion of the estimated $10 billion loot in the form of hard cash, artwork, jewelry, secret bank deposits, and corporate assets. But where is the gold?
But nobody really knows how much the Marcos Loot is valued at. Some experts estimate it to be more than $60 billion. Some say at least $100 billion. But here is the stinger:showed evidence that her husband deposited a very large sum in a bank in Brussels, Belgium that would make the loot PCGG was trying to recover look like loose change.
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In his 2003 book, “Gold Warrior,” Sterling Seagrave told the story of the hunt for Yamashita’s gold, which began when Gen.returned to the Philippines in October 1944. A team of men, whom he personally selected, wasted no time searching for the treasure sites. They found several treasure sites. MacArthur used the recovered gold to establish a trust fund for Emperor after Japan surrendered in August 1945. Known as Showa Trust, the fund’s trustees were Hirohito and MacArthur himself. Nobody knows the exact amount of Showa Trust but by 1982 it was paying nearly $1-billion interest per year! MacArthur also set up the M-Fund to back up the newly formed Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which became the dominant political force in Japan to this day.
So, what happened to the rest of Yamashita’s gold?
First of all, Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita had nothing to do with the loot. He was wrongly linked to the loot because he happened to be the top Japanese commander in the Philippines during the waning days of the war.
The real person who was responsible for looting Asia was Prince Chichibu, younger brother of Emperor Hirohito. As head of the “Golden Lily” campaign, Chichibu oversaw the plunder of conquered territories. His first cousin, Prince Tsuneyoshi Takeda, was in charge of hiding the loot at 175 secret vaults scattered around the Philippines. Takeda had a young Filipino valet named Ben Valmores. When Takeda sneaked out of northern Philippine when the Americans were closing in, he gave a copy of the maps to Valmores for safekeeping and to be given back to him upon his return. He never came back.
But some of the treasure maps found their way to then President Ferdinand E. Marcos. In 1968, he sent a team of military officers to Japan to make a deal for joint recovery of “Yamashita’s gold.” They met with a prince, a cousin of the Emperor, who told them that Japan hid over $100 billion worth of loot in the Philippines that would take “more than a century” to recover it all. It’s not known if an agreement had been reached. However, Marcos proceeded with the hunt.
In January 1971, Rogelio Roxas, a Filipino locksmith and amateur treasure hunter found a tunnel behind the Baguio general hospital and crawled inside. He found a 28-inch tall solid gold Buddha that weighed one ton, and thousands of gold bars! This was the first treasure site discovered since the end of the war. Roxas, with the aid of 10 men, took the golden Buddha home.
President Ferdinand E. Marcos heard about the discovery and sent his men to confiscate the golden Buddha. When Roxas protested, he was arrested and allegedly tortured.
It is said that by the time Marcos was deposed from power during the EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986, his men had recovered tons of gold and precious stones from 12 treasure sites. Where did Marcos hide his loot?
In 2004, an illegitimate daughter of Marcos by a German-born mother of Hungarian descent, Evelin Hegyesi, surfaced in the news in Australia. Her name is Analisa Josefa Hegyesi. Josefa is the name of Marcos’ mother.
Investigations by The Sun-Herald revealed that Evelin’s Australian companies have financial links to Marcos’ secret accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The Sun-Herald provided a dossier of the Australian link to the Marcos loot to the PCGG. But the trail went cold.
In 2011, Analisa was in the news. Now 40 years old and an interior designer, Analisa was reported by The Daily Telegraph that she was fired from a TV reality show “Renovators” after she revealed to her producers that she was Marcos’ daughter.
PCGG Chairman Andres Bautista heard about it when his staff showed him The Daily Telegraph news account. “We will look at the money trail and see if the amount to be recovered would be worth the lawyers’ fees we would be spending for it,” Bautista told the media.
Recently, it was reported in the news that PCGG would be abolished. However, Bautista said that the hunt for the Marcos Loot would not end; the job will be continued by the Department of Justice. He said that the reason for closing the 200-man agency is that it is no longer cost effective to hunt for the $5-billion leftover from the Marcos Loot.
But who says there is only $5 billion left in the loot? The original estimate was made 26 years ago, at which time the extent of the loot was not fully accounted for. And it may never be accounted for. But like an iceberg, what you see is only the tip of the iceberg… until you submerge into the water. It’s the same with treasure hunt; you never see the loot until you dig it.
P-Noy’s broken promise?
In September 2009, then presidential candidate Benigno Aquino III, made his first campaign promise: “I will recover the Marcos Loot.”
On the day Congress declared him the winner in the 2010 presidential elections, he announced that he had reconciled with the Marcoses after receiving a congratulatory call from one of the Marcos siblings. Is that all it took to break a promise?
At the end of the day, it can be said that treasures don’t just vanish; they are where you least expect them to be. So, never stop the hunt!