Fact check: Guinness not disputing historical fact on 'greatest robbery of a gov't'

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Fact check: Guinness not disputing historical fact on 'greatest robbery of a gov't'
This diamond-studded necklace, seized by the Philippine government from former first lady Imelda Marcos, was presented to the media at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas office in Manila in 2015.
The Edd Gumban / File photo

MANILA, Philippines — A Facebook post claimed that the Guinness World Book of Records deleted its entry for the “greatest robbery of a government” attributed to the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr. because it was baseless.

CLAIM: Facebook page Kaalaman PH Media posted that the Guinness World Records of the “Greatest Robbery of a Government” has been deleted after three decades, because there is no “truth” or “basis” to the said record.

RATING: This is false.


What the post says

Kaalaman PH Media, which claims to be a “social media agency,” posted on March 15 that the record on the greatest robbery of a government is no longer accessible.

It quoted a statement from Guinness World Records’ Amber Georgina-Gill who said that they seriously take responsibility for being a source of reliable, accurate information.

“Any record which has not been recently researched and verified by independent sources will be re-examined to ensure its accuracy, as well as its compatibility with GWR values and the values of the audiences we serve,” Gill supposedly said.

The Facebook page claimed that this statement proves that the record was baseless.

It continued: “Samakatuwid ay tila napatunayan na walang basehan at walang katotohanan na ang record o ang nasabing ‘Greatest Robbery of a Government’ na paratang kay Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos at sa kanyang pamilya.”

(In a sense, it seems that it was proven that there is no basis and truth on the record on Greatest Robbery of a Government’ to President Marcos and his family.)

Screengrab by Philstar.com

What it left out

In a message to Philstar.com, GWR said that part of their responsibility is to re-examine records that have not been recently researched and verified to ensure that it is up-to-date, accurate and compatible with their values.

GWR explained that the decision to review the title is their decision alone.

They, however, stressed that they “do not dispute this record as a historical fact, nor are we disputing that we monitored the record title and published it in our books and online.”

GWR said they are reviewing the details of the record, “including whether it has since been broken,” to ensure that it is updated and accurate.

Essential context

Website Wayback Machine stores internet archives which showed that the post was still accessible on March 9, 2022.

It named Ferdinand Marcos as the person behind the greatest robbery of government, involving an amount of 5 to 10 billion US dollars.

“The government of the Philippines announced on 23 Apr 1986 that it had succeeded in identifying $860.8 million (£569.5 million) salted away by the former President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos (1917–89) and his wife Imelda. The total national loss from November 1965 was believed to be $5–$10 billion,” it said.

Screengrab by Philstar.com, March 18 10:22 a.m.

But records of the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses can be found from other sources, such as court decisions.

As of September 2021, Presidential Commission on Good Government Commissioner John Agbayani said the agency recovered P174 billion and it still has to recover P125 billion.

Family matriarch Imelda was found guilty of seven counts of graft in 2018 and her appeal remains pending. The case involves the creation of several private foundations in Switzerland and holding financial interests in the private sector while holding public office.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue also confirmed that it sent a written demand to Marcos heirs to pay their estate tax liabilities amounting to billions of pesos. Estimates put it at P203.8 billion, which came from the following:

  • Deficiency Estate Tax Assessment against the Estate of Ferdinand Marcos in the amount of P23,293,607,638.
  • Deficiency Income Tax Assessments against Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos in the aggregate amount of P184,159,289.70 for the years 1985 to 1986
  • Deficiency Income Tax Assessment against Ferdinand Marcos Jr [for the years] 1982 to 1985 in the aggregate amount of P20,410.

Why it matters

Three days since the post was made, it has since gained 58,000 reactions and 7,000 comments, and has been shared over 58,000 times.

We fact-checked this because two Philstar.com readers submitted the claim to our email.

Despite other records proving the ill-gotten wealth of the family, Marcos Sr.’s namesake and only son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., is making an attempt to return the family to the highest seat of power in the country and the latest pre-elections surveys show that he is leading over his rival with double-digits.

When asked about the issue of ill-gotten wealth, Marcos dismissed it as muddled with “fake news.”

“Let’s leave it to the lawyers to discuss it because the so-called facts that they quote are not facts at all,” he said in a forum on Wednesday.

There are fears raised that if Marcos gets elected as president, the PCGG — under the executive branch where he will sit as chief — may be abolished. — with reports from Franco Luna




This story is part of the Philippine Fact-check Incubator, an Internews initiative to build the fact-checking capacity of news organizations in the Philippines and encourage participation in global fact-checking efforts.

Philstar.com is also a founding partner of Tsek.ph, a collaborative fact-checking project for the 2022 Philippines’ elections. It is an initiative of academe, civil society groups and media to counter disinformation and provide the public with verified information.

Want to know more about our fact-checking initiative? Check our FAQs here.

Have a claim you want fact-checked? Reach out to us at [email protected]

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