Is Irene the lesser Marcos?
Time is a devourer of everything.
In time, Irene Marcos Araneta has become an illusory Marcos as the “most distantly related to her father’s sins.”
Voluminous evidence shows that the fruit has not fallen far from the tree and that the radius of accountability extends to her. Years of cloak-and-dagger research have pointed to Irene as thief and plunderer.
Her crimes have also showed up beyond our shores. Within this present decade, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists sifted through 11.5 million leaked files exposing offshore holdings. The files came from influential law firm Mossack Fonseca, based in Panama with branches in Hong Kong, Miami and Zurich.
The Panama Papers exposed monies invested in offshore shell entities for the purpose of tax evasion and money laundering, all with the sole aim to be out of sight from the law. Irene Marcos Araneta and her husband Gregorio Maria Araneta III are listed as shareholders of Orient Wind Development Ltd., registered in the British Virgin Islands.
Even after 1986, the Marcoses have not stopped committing crimes. In 2001, the Aranetas were discovered to have laundered funds from a Marcos account held at Union Bank of Switzerland, attempting to transfer large sums of money to Deutsche Bank in Germany. German prosecutors released a statement saying “a woman using the name of Irene Marcos Araneta opened several accounts at a Dusseldorf branch of Deutsche Bank.”
But look — Irene has not said she is not guilty. She has in fact made inferred admissions. She, her mother and her brother have moved for the reversal of the Sandiganbayan verdict to forfeit in favor of government all assets, investments, securities, properties, shares, interests and funds of Arelma Inc., another shell company, managed by Merrill Lynch Asset Management of New York.
In 2009, Irene submitted a pleading to the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division to order the government to move out of the so-called Canlubang Mansion in Laguna. Admitting ownership of the mansion, she asked for their “property rights protected against unjustified interference and intrusion.” Where did one, only a politician’s daughter, get the resources to own such lavish properties?
In 1988, 50 agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Customs and the Internal Revenue Service, armed with a search warrant, raided Irene’s Woodside, San Francisco, suburban home. Found was a stash of paintings, sculptures and antiques believed to have been part of the art collection of New York philanthropist Leslie Samuel, valued at about $6 million. About to be auctioned off at Sotheby’s, Imelda had bought the entire collection and the auction was called off. Brilliant thievery.
In April this year, a ruckus erupted when Irene appeared at the opening of Ateneo de Manila University’s creative hub, Areté. The student government protested the presence of a Marcos in the university’s grounds. The university president admitted it was a faux pas. Areté’s executive director Yael Buencamino resigned (may I say: Yael is a friend and I acknowledge her as one of Manila’s outstanding museum curators; I have worked in a museum manual project with her).
One middle-grounder made rocket science out of it saying it was troublesome to ban the Marcoses from a university. That’s weak reasoning. The history of fascism and plunder must be taught as fact, not as something left to the opinion of students. If Nicaragua was able to perpetually ban a dictator’s family from public office, let our universities do it if the government cannot. Teaching the Marcoses’ crimes to future generations is not for relativism.
The artist Kiri Dalena and her mother, the famed sculptor from Mindanao, Julie Lluch, were present at the art show. Kiri said: “Do we know of any Marcos child who has expressed shame over their illegally accumulated billions, their life of undisturbed power and privilege enjoyed with the fullness of impunity?”
It is actually these little gestures of cozying up to the Marcoses that make closure impossible.
The lesson in history seems to be that crime pays.
On Twitter: @AntonioJMontal2
E-mail: [email protected]
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