On Imelda Marcos’ 91st birthday, online users recall her purported crimes

July 2, 2020 - 8:23 PM
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Imelda Marcos in The Kingmaker
A screengrab from the trailer of "The Kingmaker," a US-made documentary that portrays the life of former first lady Imelda Marcos and her role in her family's return to politics. (Photo from SHOWTIME's YouTube account)

Former first lady Imelda Marcos‘ graft and vulgar cases resurfaced online after her son greeted her on social media.

The Marcos matriarch was born on July 2, 1929, in Leyte.

In a post on his social media accounts, former senator Bongbong Marcos greeted his mother for her 91st birthday with a photo.

The photo attachment featured Imelda’s old portrait with a background collage of structures built during the Marcos regime.

Black and white photos of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, the Lung Center of the Philippines and the Cultural Center of the Philippines could clearly be seen on the backdrop.

“Thank you for being a Mother to us all. Happy Birthday Mom!” Bongbong said.

His post on Facebook earned more than 4,100 shares and 21,700 comments as of writing. It also gained 101,000 reactions and of which, 70,000 were likes, 25,000 were hearts and 3,400 were “care” emojis.

However, sentiments on Bongbong’s post on Twitter were mostly the opposite.

Instead of well wishes, several Filipinos used the hashtag #IseldaSiImelda and #Marcosmagnanakaw to remind the public of Imelda’s crimes and that of her husband late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Twitter user @brndnbtch recalled how Imelda allegedly exploited Filipinos’ taxes to finance her luxurious lifestyle during her husband’s presidency. He also noted that she is still free despite a warrant of arrest had already been issued to jail her.

Imelda is known for having massive collection of shoes, jewelry and artwork. Her family, particularly her children, continued to have an influential role in politics and enjoys good ties with President Rodrigo Duterte.

“91 years ago, a monster was born,” the user said.

“She stole a lot from the Filipino people to fulfill her vulgar luxurious lifestyle. Millions of Filipinos starved and died just so she get what she wants. There’s a warrant for her arrest yet she is free,” the user added.

Some Twitter users, meanwhile, edited Bongbong’s publication material and replaced the structures with photos of human rights abuses and killings, including the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, which occurred during Marcos’ dictatorship.

One Twitter user described Imelda as the “mother of thieves” to replace Bongbong’s “mother to us all” remark.

Last year,  Imelda’s public birthday celebration was met with chaos after hundreds of her guests suffered from food poisoning.

READ: ‘Vintage Imelda’: Marcos continued with party despite food poisoning

Why is Imelda still free?

In November 2018, Sandiganbayan Fifth Division convicted Marcos’ widow of seven counts of graft in relation to the seven private organizations she illegally created in Switzerland while sitting in public office during her husband’s regime.

The case had been pending in court since December 1991.

These private organizations 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.

Despite being charged guilty for two years, law enforcement authorities have yet to arrest Imelda due to her health and age.

Imelda was 89 years old at the time of her conviction.

Human rights advocates and other critics have been criticized for this perceived double standard in implementing the law. They argued that the police had imprisoned older suspects without trial and the same treatment.

The former first lady was supposed to serve her sentence between six and 11 years in prison for each count of graft.