‘A tale of two elders’: The case of Imelda Marcos and 72-year-old detained jeepney driver

June 8, 2020 - 8:07 PM
Elmer Cordero
This photo release shows 72-year-old jeepney driver Elmer Cordero, one of the six drivers police arrested on June 2, 2020. (Photo from PISTON)

Local Twitterverse on Monday juxtaposed the case of former Rep. Imelda Marcos who was supposed to be imprisoned for graft charges with that of 72-year-old Elmer Cordero, a jeepney driver who was detained for protesting for his livelihood.

The six jeepney drivers of the transport group PISTON or the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide, otherwise known as “Piston 6,” was arrested on June 2 for violating Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code.

The police officers of Caloocan City charged them with simple resistance and disobedience to authority following their participation in the protest against the government’s ban on jeepney operations, the most affordable public transport option.

Piston denied the police’s claims and said that the drivers practiced physical distancing measures and wore the requisite face masks.

Under the currently-imposed general community quarantine in Metro Manila, public utility vehicles like jeepneys are not yet allowed to operate due to supposed physical distancing concerns in the vehicle.

Bar 2019 topnotcher Mae Diane Azores previously expressed her intent to help the drivers and called for donations to support the then-detained drivers who have not been earning for more than two months.

Four of the detained jeepney drivers have posted bail on Monday afternoon but two of them were not allowed release because of pending cases under their names. These are Wilson Ramilla and Cordero, the oldest among the arrested.

Cordero supposedly has a pending estafa case attached to his name “way back,” but he denied the accusations and maintained that he did nothing wrong.

The detainees’ lawyer, Vicente Jaime Topacio, said that they would verify the information if it was really the elder or another person altogether who shares the same name with him but had a record.

Remember Imelda? 

The prolonged detention of Cordero, who is afflicted with hernia, was denounced by Filipino online users who urged the authorities to release him under humanitarian grounds.

Others immediately recalled the case of Marcos’ widow who was supposed to be detained but had not yet been arrested by the authorities due to her health and old age.

“This is how you treat a 72-year-old jeepney driver who only wants to protect his livelihood, and yet you refuse to detain a murderer and a thief like Imelda Marcos because of her ‘age’??? Ika nga, ‘Ang hustisya ay para lang sa mayaman,'” wrote another online user.


The juxtaposition eventually made the name of Marcos land on local Twitter’s top ten trending list late Monday afternoon.

Imelda Marcos in Twitter trending list
The name of former lawmaker Imelda Marcos appeared on local Twitter’s top trending list on June 6, 2020. (Screengrab by Interaksyon)

Marcos’ widow was previously convicted of seven counts of graft by the Sandiganbayan in 2018 in relation to the organizations she illegally created in Switzerland while sitting in public office during her husband’s regime.

She was accused of holding financial interests in the supposed private organizations despite being a public official, which is considered unlawful.

They were allegedly used to maintain Swiss bank accounts that contained millions of dollars under the Marcoses’ name, all funneled from government funds obtained during the late dictator’s regime.

The case had been pending in court since December 1991.

While Marcos was charged as guilty, she has not yet been arrested by law enforcement authorities following the conviction.

Then-PNP chief Oscar Albayalde had reasoned that they would take into consideration her health and age. Marcos at that time was 89-years-old.

“We have to take into consideration, may edad na kasi. In any arrest or anybody for that matter, that has to be taken [into] consideration, the age, the health, alam naman natin na andyan siya,” he said before.

“The former first lady is a very… hindi naman natin sabihin… baka magalit sa’tin na matanda, pero may edad na kasi,” Albayalde added.

Meanwhile, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno said that Marcos’ age was not a sufficient reason to prevent her arrest since the crimes she was convicted for took place before she became 89-years-old.