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  • If you've ever wanted to know

  • what a revolution looks like,

  • feast your eyes on Manila tonight.

  • Marcos's regime ended in 1986

  • when he was toppled by what is now known

  • as the People Power Revolution.

  • The Filipino government has estimated

  • that the amount the Marcos family pilfered

  • was between $5 billion and $10 billion.

  • So this is just graft

  • on an absolutely massive unheard of scale.

  • Marcos declared martial law in 1972,

  • closed newspapers, jailed political foes,

  • turned parliament into a rubber stamp.

  • The Marcos regime was very concerned about dissidence,

  • so the security forces are tasked

  • with arresting the dissidents,

  • torturing them for information.

  • Oftentimes, the victim would be summarily executed.

  • A nation took to the streets tonight

  • to celebrate its victory.

  • A dictator had fallen. The people conquered his palace.

  • Reagan, who was president at this time,

  • actually offered Marcos asylum in the U.S.

  • And so when Marcos did ultimately decide

  • to step down in February of 1986,

  • Reagan sent two planes to cart Marcos

  • and 90 members of his entourage,

  • along with millions of dollars worth of loot.

  • It is time to come to an understanding

  • with both the government and Marcoses

  • to compensate the human rights victims.

  • In 1992, after years of building the case,

  • the Marcos class action finally went to trial.

  • The jury in Hawaii ultimately held Marcos responsible.

  • The judgment in total was almost $2 billion,

  • which was astronomical.

  • It's been a long fight to this point,

  • but we're going to continue to fight to the end.

  • We knew at the outset that it

  • was gonna be a very risky litigation.

  • At that point, what they had was just a number

  • on a piece of paper and actually turning it into money

  • for the class was gonna be a much harder challenge.

  • My name is Haley Cohen Gilliland,

  • and I am an independent journalist based in Los Angeles.

  • We cannot succeed without the support of our people.

  • So Ferdinand Marcos ran the Philippines for 21 years,

  • and he first blazed into the presidency in 1965.

  • He was a remarkably charismatic figure.

  • He was a wonderful orator.

  • He had a beautiful wife who was very elegant

  • and had a gorgeous singing voice,

  • and she would regale crowds at his campaign rallies.

  • Now everybody seems to be involved

  • in the destiny not only of himself

  • but of the entire content of the entire nation,

  • and this is what we have been hoping and praying for.

  • His first term was really promising.

  • He invested really widely in infrastructure

  • and urban beautification and especially rural development,

  • and so his base of followers grew and grew.

  • Then in his second term,

  • he started to run into some problems,

  • allegations of corruption, growing poverty,

  • and simultaneously, some separatist guerrilla groups,

  • violent groups, started to pop up in the country.

  • Ferdinand Marcos at this point takes advantage

  • of the advent of these groups to declare martial law

  • and essentially rule the country by decree.

  • I have received hundreds and hundreds

  • of telegrams from all corners of the Philippines,

  • congratulating you and incidentally me

  • for the proclamation of martial law.

  • And all the while Filipino citizens

  • were being tortured and imprisoned,

  • the Marcoses would spend really brazenly and lavishly.

  • So they amassed dozens of luxury properties all

  • over the Philippines and around the world.

  • Then in 1986, Ferdinand Marcos decided to call an election.

  • Marcos! Marcos!

  • By all accounts, Marcos fixed that election,

  • and when that became clear,

  • that unleashed massive protests around the country.

  • Millions of Filipinos flooded into the streets,

  • demanding that Marcos step down.

  • And ultimately in that case,

  • the U.S. finally said, "Enough is enough,"

  • and encouraged Marcos to step down as well.

  • But they didn't completely cut support because Reagan,

  • who was president at this time,

  • actually offered Marcos asylum in the U.S.

  • And so when Marcos did ultimately decide

  • to step down in February of 1986,

  • Reagan sent two planes to cart Marcos

  • and 90 members of his entourage,

  • along with millions of dollars worth of loot,

  • diamonds and cash,

  • some of which they carried out in diaper boxes.

  • Reagan sent planes to cart those people and assets

  • to Honolulu where Marcos was welcomed with asylum.

  • My name's Robert Swift.

  • Most people call me Bob. I'm a litigator.

  • I do complex litigation,

  • and I've been doing that for almost 48 years.

  • At the time of the revolution in the Philippines,

  • there was a great deal of publicity as well

  • as information that various human rights groups

  • have collected about human rights abuses committed

  • by the Marcos regime.

  • And my initial intention was to bring individual cases,

  • but when I learned of the enormity of the abuses,

  • I decided that it was worthwhile

  • to try bringing a class action.

  • And the way that he did that

  • was using this very rarely used statute

  • called the Alien Tort Statute,

  • and that statute was first enacted in 1789.

  • It's only a couple of sentences,

  • but it essentially allows non-U.S. citizens to sue people

  • for violations of international law in U.S. court.

  • About 10,000 Filipino people signed on

  • to become a part of this class action,

  • which is absolutely a massive class.

  • It is time to compensate the human rights victims.

  • The first named plaintiff was a college-age girl

  • by the name of Lilioso Hilao.

  • She had written some articles in the student press

  • which were not flattering to the Marcoses

  • or the Marcos regime.

  • She was arrested by military,

  • taken to a military detention center

  • where she was interrogated.

  • When she was uncooperative,

  • the military poured muriatic acid down her throat,

  • and she died from asphyxiation.

  • Another example is an individual

  • by the name of Mariano Pimentel.

  • Pimentel had been a political leader in Mindanao.

  • He'd been arrested several times.

  • He was finally released from detention

  • after more than six months,

  • and on his way back to his province,

  • military members in a Jeep stopped him,

  • took him to a sugarcane field, had him dig a grave.

  • They then buried him up to his neck,

  • and before they filled in the soil,

  • they broke a leg and broke an arm

  • so that he wouldn't be able to dig himself out.

  • They then put the soil back in and buried him up to his neck

  • and they figured they would let the ants do the rest.

  • He survived because there were several children

  • who had been hiding in the sugarcane field

  • who saw him and dug him out, and he later emigrated

  • to the United States where I met him.

  • In addition, the present state has the duty

  • to uphold the need to recompense its own victims.

  • In 1992, after years of building the case,

  • the Marcos class action finally went to trial in Hawaii,

  • and the jury in Hawaii ultimately held Marcos responsible

  • for the abuses and torture

  • that had occurred under his regime.

  • So in 1994, Swift asked the jury for $1 billion,

  • which represented $100,000 per victim,

  • which he felt was appropriate amount.

  • Well, I don't know that no other lawyer

  • had ever asked a jury for a billion dollars.

  • However, our case is unique

  • in that we really supported that number

  • through the enormity of the abuses that had occurred.

  • And the amount that the jury ultimately awarded

  • to the Marcos class totaled almost two billion.

  • That was astronomical figure,

  • an absolutely unheard of figure.

  • It was the largest ever personal injury judgment in history.

  • So immediately upon receiving the monetary judgements

  • in 1994 and 1995, Swift got to work

  • and started assessing what things they could try to claim.

  • This was very challenging in part

  • because the Philippines' courts

  • did not recognize the U.S. judgment,

  • and so they couldn't go after any assets in the Philippines.

  • They had to go after assets elsewhere.

  • In effect, I was limited to executing

  • on whatever Marcos' assets were in the United States,

  • and of course, the Marcoses weren't willing

  • to testify as to that.

  • I took their depositions several times,

  • and they claimed they didn't know anything.

  • Of course, that was false.

  • So the turning point as it relates

  • to collections was between 2000 and 2010.

  • And essentially, what happened was there

  • was an oil investor in Texas by the name of Alan Meeker,

  • and he found some attractive parcels of land

  • that he was interested in purchasing.

  • But for the life of him, the way that he describes it

  • was he couldn't find the darn owner.

  • And as he was doing due diligence on this land,

  • he remembered a rumor that he had heard when he was younger

  • that Ferdinand Marcos had actually purchased a bunch

  • of oil producing lands in Texas.

  • These lands proved to be very valuable

  • and ultimately was able to settle that litigation

  • for $10 million.

  • So Swift was absolutely overjoyed

  • at the prospect of finally having enough money

  • to distribute to the class members

  • who had waited for so many decades

  • to see anything after the judgements came.

  • But the challenges were still very great in terms

  • of how the money would actually get distributed.

  • So while I had 10,000 checks with names on them,

  • many of the people had died.

  • By that, I mean more than 20%.

  • So the process was laborious and much slower

  • than I would've liked, but it was very effective,

  • and it was also gratifying.

  • The faces of the people expressing their gratitude

  • were enough of a reward that I felt good

  • about what we were doing,

  • and I knew that it was gonna benefit them.

  • I would often ask people frequently through an interpreter,

  • "How are you going to use the money?"

  • And I was told that they would use it

  • to put a cemetery stone by the church for their loved one,

  • or they would send their children to school,

  • or they would simply buy food.

  • The older people would use the money

  • to buy prescription drugs

  • that they couldn't otherwise afford.

  • 10 years, I'm starting to rise again.

  • Now like a phoenix, hopefully, the truth will come

  • from the ashes of what was done to us.

  • Ferdinand Marcos and his family were exiled

  • from the Philippines in the 1980s,

  • but subsequent to his death, they were allowed to return.

  • And since then, they have managed

  • to really regain the popularity

  • that they enjoyed during his term.

  • Congratulations, Senator Imee Marcos.

  • Well, it's outrageous

  • that the nation allows this to happen.

  • Will I say sorry for the power generation?

  • Will I say sorry for the highest literacy rate in Asia?

  • What am I to say sorry about?

  • In the Philippines, as in other countries,

  • elections are frequently won by those

  • who can more readily distribute money

  • during the election process.

  • The Marcoses have had access to the monies acquired

  • and hidden by Ferdinand Marcos.

  • The richest

  • is Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.,

  • who declared a net worth of more than 400 million pesos.

  • Bongbong Marcos, his son, is running for president

  • in 2022 and is polling quite well.