Military career of Ferdinand Marcos

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The Military career of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos during World War II has been the subject of debate and controversy, both in the Philippines and in international Military circles.[1][2]

Training and call to service

Before World War II, Marcos was already a Reserve Officers' Training Corps graduate during his time studying law.[3] Hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941, the Japanese simultaneously bombed many places in the Philippines, including Clark Field. The 14th Army began its invasion with a landing on Batan Island (not to be confused with Bataan Peninsula), 120 miles (190 km) off the north coast of Luzon on the same day, by selected naval infantry units. Landings on Camiguin Island and at Vigan, Aparri, and Gonzaga in northern Luzon followed two days later.[4] Marcos was one of those who were called into the army as a 3rd lieutenant during the mobilization in the summer and fall of 1941. The U.S. Army has confirmed that Ferdinand Marcos fought on the U.S. side after the December 1941 Japanese invasion of the Philippines until April 1942, after which he was taken prisoner.[3] He also had records showing that he fought on the American side again from December 1944 until the end of the war.[according to whom?]

Marcos would be one of the 78,000 Filipino and American troops who surrendered at Bataan on April 9, 1942, four months after the Japanese initiated their invasion of the Philippines. He survived the Bataan Death March that followed the surrender.[5]

Claims of guerrilla force leadership

Marcos claimed to have led a 9,000-man guerrilla force called Ang Mahárlika (Tagalog, "The Freeman")[6] in northern Luzon during World War II. His account of events was later cast into doubt after a United States military investigation exposed many of his claims as either false or inaccurate.[7] Meanwhile, Marcos claimed that he was able to get the United States Adjutant General to recognize 3,500 individual claims of soldiers then under his command.[8]

According to Marcos publicist-turned critic Primitivo Mijares in his book The Conjugal Dictatorship, Marcos also filed a fake multimillion-dollar war reparations claim that he had supplied starving American and Filipino soldiers with several thousand head of cattle.[9]

Medals controversy

In 1962, Marcos would claim to be the "most decorated war hero of the Philippines" by garnering almost every medal and decoration that the Filipino and American governments could give to a soldier.[5] Among his supposed 27 war medals and decorations were the Distinguished Service Cross (allegedly pinned by General Douglas MacArthur) and the Medal of Honor (allegedly pinned by General Jonathan M. Wainwright); these claims have been discredited.[1] Marcos was not listed in General Douglas MacArthur's "List of Recipients of Awards and Decorations" issued from December 7, 1941 through June 30, 1945 that was compiled in Tokyo, and General Jonathan Wainwright's list of 120 Americans and Filipinos who were awarded during the Bataan campaign by the War Department shortly before his surrender.[10][11] Colonel Manriquez and Adjutant Captain Rivera who were the commanders of the 14th Infantry, whom Marcos claimed to have served under, attested that Marcos was not a soldier, but was a non-combatant and a Civil Affairs officer. Marcos did receive campaign ribbons given to all combatant and non-combatant participants "in the defense of Bataan and in the resistance."[12] His claim of having received the Order of the Purple Heart has also been shown to have been false—his name does not appear on the official roster of recipients.[13][14][14]

Later research showed the wartime exploits of Marcos to be mostly propaganda, being inaccurate or untrue.[15][16][17][18][19][20]

In 1986, research by historian Alfred W. McCoy into United States Army records showed most of Marcos's medals to be fraudulent.[2][21] According to Ricardo José, former chairman of the Department of History of the University of the Philippines, Marcos's claims in his self-commissioned autobiography Marcos of the Philippines that Gen. Douglas MacArthur pinned on him the Distinguished Service Cross medal for delaying Japanese at Bataan for 3 months was highly improbable.[22]

John Sharkey of the Washington Post found records that Marcos was in the list of those that were released due to either "having severe health problems and those whose families have cooperated with the Japanese military authorities."[11] Since Marcos's name did not appear in the 1942 Manila Tribune list of ailing prisoners that were released by the Japanese, Sharkey believed that Marcos may have been freed due to his connections with his father.

See also


  1. ^ a b Gerth, Jeff; Brinkley, Joel (January 23, 1986). "Marcos's wartime role discredited in U.S. files". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ a b Gerth, Jeff; Brinkley, Joel (January 23, 1986). "Marcos's Wartime Role Discredited in U.S. Files". New York Times. 
  3. ^ a b Sharkey, John. "New Doubts on Marcos' War Role". Washington Post.  January 24, 1986
  4. ^ Agoncillo (1990), pp. 404–409.
  5. ^ a b Mijares (1976), pp. 246–254.
  6. ^ Scott, William Henry (1992). Looking for the Prehispanic Filipino and Other Essays in the Philippine History. Quezon City: New Day Publishers. ISBN 971-10-0524-7. 
  7. ^ McCoy, Alfred W. (1999). Closer than brothers: manhood at the Philippine Military Academy. Yale University Press. pp. 167–170. ISBN 978-0-300-07765-0. 
  8. ^ Mijares (1976), p. 261.
  9. ^ Primitivo,, Mijares,. The conjugal dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos : revised and annotated (Revised edition ed.). Quezon City. ISBN 9789715507813. OCLC 988749288. 
  10. ^ Maynigo, Benjamin. "MARCOS FAKE MEDALS REDUX (Part I)". Asian Journal USA. Archived from the original on February 8, 2017.  August 15, 2016
  11. ^ a b Sharkey, John. "The Marcos Mystery: Did the Philippine Leader Really Win the U.S. Medals for Valor?He Exploits Honors He May Not Have Earned". Washington Post.  December 18, 1983
  12. ^ Bondoc, Jarius (April 29, 2011). "Marcos medals: Only 2 of 33 given in battle". Phil Star Global. 
  13. ^ "Historian: Marcos' war exploits 'full of lies'". cnn. Retrieved 2018-03-02. 
  14. ^ a b "Marcos' World War II 'medals' explained". Rappler. Retrieved 2018-03-02. 
  15. ^ "Marcos medals: Only 2 of 33 given in battle". Global Balita. April 28, 2011. 
  16. ^ Opinion piece citing Bonifacio Gillego's book critical of Marcos's wartime history: Conrado de Quiros (July 8, 2014). "Sunset Boulevard". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 
  17. ^ Bulatlat piece questioning the Marcos exploits during the war: ARTURO P. GARCIA. "The Real Heroes of Bessang Pass". Bulatlat. V (19). 
  18. ^ Orlando Sentinel article which claims the Marcos war history records as untrue: "U.s. Army Years Ago Labeled Marcos' Wwii Tales As Lies". Orlando Sentinel. January 23, 1986. 
  19. ^ PCIJ.ORG article about which claims Marcos's wartime history as propaganda: "PCIJ findings: What's flawed, fuzzy with drug war numbers?". Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. June 8, 2017. 
  20. ^ Asian Journal San Diego which has an article also claiming Marcos's exploits during world war two as untrue: "Marcos Fake Medals Redux (Part III)". Asian Journal. May 13, 2017. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Alfred W. McCoy Biography". University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of History. Archived from the original on 2011-08-28. 
  22. ^ Robles, Raissa (May 17, 2011). "Eminent Filipino war historian slams Marcos burial as a "hero"". Raissa Robles: Inside Politics and Beyond. 
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