Friday, 11 March 2011 15:03 James O'Toole
Former Filipino first lady Imelda Marcos is in the Kingdom this week for a conference on maternal health despite facing graft charges at home in connection with her husband’s plunderous reign.
Marcos’ husband, Ferdinand Marcos, ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986, imprisoning and torturing of thousands of political opponents over that span. Upon fleeing the country following her husband’s overthrow in 1986, Imelda Marcos left behind nearly 3,000 pairs of shoes, an incident that has become a symbol of the decadence and corruption that characterised the couple’s time in power.
The 81-year-old Marcos, who now serves as a parliamentarian in her home country, was scheduled to give a presentation yesterday morning at the conference, titled “Accelerating the Achievement of [United Nations Millennium Development Goal 5] Through the Role of Women Parliamentarians”. She had not shown up at the conference as of mid-afternoon yesterday, however.
A member of Marcos’ legislative staff in attendance at the conference yesterday appeared perplexed by her boss’s tardiness, but declined to comment as she was not authorised to speak with the media. A spokeswoman at the Philippines Embassy referred questions to conference organisers.
The Philippines’ ABS-CBN News reported last month that Marcos had petitioned a Filipino court for permission to leave the country and travel to the Kingdom for this week’s conference, as she is required to do because of the 10 remaining graft cases pending against her.
“Marcos has complained that years of litigation have drained her resources so that she now has to withdraw from her husband’s pension at Veterans Bank to be able to put up the … travel bond required by the graft court,” ABS-CBN said.
“For this trip however, it is the House of Representatives that will pay for the airfare and daily allowances of the country’s delegation. The host country, on the other hand, will cover their hotel accommodations.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY VONG SOKHENG