Ferdinand Marcos was the most notorious president of the Philippines, having been accused of human rights abuses, extra-judicial killings, torture and amassing an estimated $10 billion in illegal wealth.
But for some, Marcos was the best president of the archipelago of more than 100 million people, having set the blueprint for the country’s infrastructural development that current leaders still follow.
Born on September 11, 1917, Marcos was considered a visionary, starting projects that strengthened the agriculture industry, showcased Philippine culture, and boosted the domestic economy.
A lawyer by profession, Marcos began his political career when he was elected as a member of the House of Representatives from 1949 to1959. He later became a senator.
He was elected as president in 1965 and held the post until 1986, when he was ousted by a people-power revolt following a snap election that was allegedly marred by widespread fraud and violence.
While his term began on a high note, turning the country into one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia as well as becoming a key rice exporter, allegations of corruption began to crop up as his first term in office was nearing its end.
His re-election in 1969 was considered the dirtiest campaign in the country until that time, marked by massive vote-buying and violence.
Poverty rose rapidly amid massive corruption perpetrated by his family members, relatives and cronies, triggering massive street protests by student and political activists who called for his ouster.
In 1972, he declared martial law, placing the military and the police under his control and incarcerating politicians and activists who opposed his rule. Thousands of opponents were tortured, executed or disappeared during his time in office. He abolished Congress and appointed members of the judiciary who are subservient to him, giving him absolute power.
Marcos died in ignominy in Hawaii in 1989, three years after he and his family fled to the US in self-imposed exile. He was survived by his wife Imelda, and three children: Imee, Ferdinand Junior and Irene.
His wife Imelda is a member of the House of Representatives, while Imee is governor of the northern province of Ilocos Norte and his son and namesake ran to be the country’s vice-president in May, but lost. — dpa