Rumors, past and present

HISTORY MATTERS - Todd Sales Lucero - The Freeman

Former president Rodrigo Roa Duterte recently publicly “confirmed” the rumor that has been floating that our current chief executive is a cocaine addict. This rumor is not new, and did not even begin with former president Duterte. Many other Philippine personalities, including a former senator, have indicated in more than one news interview that the current president supposedly constantly used cocaine especially during his youth. Presidential rumors are nothing new.

Emilio Aguinaldo continues to be scrutinized by historians today. Some unflattering rumors have surfaced, from him being the mastermind in executing other Filipino revolutionary leaders like Antonio Luna, who he saw as rivals, or of misappropriating funds intended for the country while he was in exile. When he ran against and lost to Manuel L. Quezon in 1935, rumors were rife that there were planned inaugural protests against and even an assassination attempt on Quezon, though nothing came about of these rumors.

Manuel L. Quezon, who is hailed for helping the Jews from Germany, had for years since World War II been the center of ugly rumors that he had given a lavish gift to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and some others, that was offensive and insensitive given the shortage of everything else in the Philippines at the time. In 1978, MacArthur’s biographer, Carol Petillo, uncovered Quezon’s Executive Order No. 1, which awarded MacArthur $500,000 for his service to the Philippine Military Mission, $75,000 to Richard Sutherland, and lesser amounts to several others.

President Sergio Osmena’s political career was also full of rumors and scandals, from the various identities of his rumored fathers to accusations of deceptions and skullduggery committed on unsuspecting relations to siphon money to his own coffers.

Rumors concerning Jose P. Laurel have, for years, also involved Ferdinand Marcos. One book wrote about the Laurel family’s connection to the supposed Yamashita gold, which, as we know, also involves the Marcoses. It was also whispered that Laurel was friends with a Judge Chua, a federal judge in the Philippines who reportedly had an affair with a maid and fathered a child --Ferdinand E. Marcos. Though never proven, the rumors continue to exist today because Chua allegedly spent for Marcos’ education.

Manuel A. Roxas was said to have evaded damaging legal entanglement with the Japanese using his poor health as an excuse (sounds familiar?). There were rumors that Roxas raised his temperature and made his “illnesses” appear more convincing by supposedly putting a piece of garlic in his anus!

It was believed that Elpidio R. Quirino “accepted” money to allow Japanese war criminals to be released to their families. Quirino's Liberal Party, being short of funds and facing a general 1949 election, suggested that funds could be obtained through the Japanese prisoners whose relatives would gladly pay up to ?6,000 for the release of each war criminal, especially as their release was at the discretion of the president.

More rumors and salacious tales were floating in the Philippines during various administrations, including one presidential family owning slaves (and this was in the early 1900s), affairs with various women (and at least one male president with a male actor!) and having children from these affairs.

Of course, many of these rumors can be easily disproven, though others need further validation. Whether they have been disproven or not, many of these rumors continue to crop up every once in a while, especially during presidential elections. Most have been retold so many times they have mutated into countless versions. With rumor-mongering a favorite Filipino pastime, expect these rumors about our current president to continue in the months ahead.

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