TNP FACT-CHECK: Video falsely claims Marcos richest family in the world

The Marcoses are not the richest family in the world, contrary to a claim made by a TikTok video that the household has amassed over $1.4 trillion (P88 trillion) in wealth.

The video, posted by user www.aiiron on June 19, took the list of the world’s top eight richest families from business news organization Bloomberg, but appended the Marcoses and the European Rothschilds at the top. The video has a sticker that says the Marcoses have “1.4 trillion + $.”

In the comments, the user how the amount was arrived at:

“Based on media/GMA news interview. 987B+200B+7,000 tons of gold in PHP pesos 15T+ in USD 285B. Oh tahol mga anti-Marcos. Kulang pa yan actually kaya may (+). (Bark, Marcos bashers. That’s not even the entire asset, which is why there is a ( + ).”

The claim that the ex-president Ferdinand Marcos had $987 billion has been debunked. Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, only has a net worth of $219 billion.

The P200 billion figure tied to the Marcos name is, meanwhile, from the estate tax liabilities that the family owes the government.

Rep. Lito Atienza recalled that then first lady Imelda Marcos once confided in him that she had 7,000 tons of gold, which she wanted to return to the government to pay off the nation’s debt. 

VERA Files cited a Philippine Daily Inquirer report that Gabriel Singson, former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor, has belied this claim as the BSP only obtained 286.06 metric tons of gold from 1977 to 1987.

The fact-checking organization also said that experts in an Inquirer story explained that Mrs. Marcos’ claim was unbelievable, as even 4,000 tons of gold would outnumber South Africa’ 10-year production, more than half of the gold reserves in Fort Knox in the U.S., and all of the reserves of the German Central Bank.

There has been no official record that concludes the amount of gold the Marcoses possess. Incoming president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. also claimed he has never seen gold in his life.

The Bloomberg 2021 index actually reports that the Waltons of the US were the world’s richest family ($215 billion in assets acquired mostly through Walmart, the world’s largest retailer by revenue), followed by the Mars family also from the U.S. ($120 billion across five generations with their chocolates).

The Rothschilds no longer have a monolithic house that could be measured for assets, as the family name has already expanded into various independent business ventures.

Meanwhile, the Marcoses’ incomplete statements of liabilities, assets and networks (SALN) and tax declarations pose a challenge in computing their gross net worth.

The Supreme Court found in 2003 that as president, Marcos Sr. earned P660,000 from 1966 and 1976 and P800,000 from 1977 to 1984, and 110,000 in 1985. Marcos Sr. died on Sept. 8, 1989.

His wife, Imelda, earned P718,750 from June 1976 to February 1986 as human settlements minister, bringing the couple’s total asset to P2,319,583.33 while in power.

This does not yet consider Mrs. Marcos’ term as representative of the first district of Leyte from 1995 to 1998. Imelda also became Ilocos Norte district representative in 2010, and declared a net worth of P923 million in her latest SALN in 2018.

Among the Marcos children, daughter Imee, who was a senator in the 18th Congress, reported a net worth of P36.2 million in her 2020 SALN. Son Ferdinand Jr. posted a net worth of P211 million in his SALN for 2015, the year before his senatorial term ended in 2016.

The reported figures are outside of the family’s ill-gotten wealth, which the high court defined as unexplained money outside of an official’s SALN.

Andres Bautista, former chairperson of the Philippine Commission on Good Governance established in 1986 to recover the Marcos wealth, estimated that the Marcoses accumulated $5 billion to $13 billion as of 1986.

This earned the Marcoses an entry in the Guiness Book of World Records for the greatest theft of a government. But Bautista added that some estimates go as high as $30 billion.

Last year, the PCGG recovered over P174 billion in ill-gotten wealth from the Marcoses, while P125.9 are still in litigation as of Sept. 9, 2021.

The TikTok video has garnered over 2.8 million views and 262,5000 likes as of writing, mostly from accounts that support Marcos Jr. (RP)