LOS BAÑOS, Laguna – (UPDATED, 3:37 pm) Thousands of loyalists of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos have converged at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños for what was officially billed as the “general assembly” of a cooperative, but which bore the hallmarks of a gathering to extol Marcos and lure people with subliminal promises of a share of the fabled Marcos wealth.
The gathering — “One Social Family Credit Cooperative General Assembly” — at the UPLB Lower Grounds was among four activities listed in a traffic advisory for Saturday, September 23, released by the school.
The advisory noted that the gathering had been approved by the Department of Human Kinetics-College of Arts and Sciences.
The other activities at the campus on Saturday are the commencement exercises of the UP Open University, the sixth anniversary and summit of the UPLB Elderly Development Program, and the Annual Worldwide International Week of the Deaf celebration.
However, photos taken of participants to the “general assembly” as they arrived on the campus, many ferried in rented jeepneys, showed them carrying pamphlets with the portrait of the late dictator, who placed the country under martial law in 1972 and imposed one-man rule for the next 14 years until he was ousted by the 1986 People Power uprising.
‘Bullion’ gathering; ATM cards
The UPLB student organization Sakbayan (Samahan ng Kabataan Parasa Bayan), quoted one Jeff Fortuna, Logistics Coordinator of the One Social Family Credit Cooperative, as saying 50,000 Marcos beneficiaries from Southern Tagalog and the National Capital Region are expected to converge today at UPLB.
They actually started arriving at the site at 4am and the program is expected to last till 5pm.
Sakbayan also quoted some residents saying they were invited by the cooperative to join in the gathering, for no specific reason. Still others said they presumed the event would include the distribution of money from the Marcoses.
The booklets they got from ‘Bullion Buyer Ltd.’ which bore the image of Ferdinand Marcos on its cover are expected to be stamped later, said some ralliers, along with the distribution of “ATM Cards.”
Yet another weird version of the intriguing invitation: some people said they were told to bring sacks and shovels as part of the activity would be to dig up part of the missing “Marcos wealth” in UPLB’s sprawling grounds at the foothills of Mt. Makiling.
Sakbayan learned that the activity had been processed and given a permit for by the DHK-College of Arts and Sciences administration, and the permit billed it as a “social gathering” of citizens of CALABARZON and NCR.
Sakbayan queried the UPLB administration, which confirmed there is really a cooperative that exists and which sought the permit, but the officials themselves did not know how many people exactly were expected.
Meanwhile, the so-called Marcos beneficiaries remain on campus with their booklets from “Bullion Buyer Ltd.”.
Some reports said a lot of people had tried flocking to the ATM machines of various banks that are near campus to check out if there’s really money.
UPLB faculty member Lynette Serrano, who shot several photos and posted these on social media, said earlier in her post that the “Marcos beneficiaries” were from the Calabarzon and Mimaropa regions and that she had witnessed “attendance being taken.”
A UPLB employee, who asked not to be named, said a number had come from as far as Mindoro and that “they seem to be coming and going in batches.”
Another, who also sought anonymity, told of speaking to a “regional coordinator” two days ago who did not give details but hinted that participants to the “general assembly” had been promised financial compensation to be distributed by a firm called “Bullion Buyers Ltd.”
In fact, many of those who had gathered on Saturday called their assembly “Bullion.”
NM Angeles, a government employee, told InterAksyon he had spoken to participants who showed him their booklets, whose contents were about Marcos’ achievements, and said these had been distributed to them in their barangays and were to be presented when they arrived at UPLB.
Angeles said some of the attendees said they came from Metro Manila.
“Nag-try ako humingi nung booklet. Ayaw magbigay kasi kanya-kanya raw ‘yun. Tinanong ako, ‘Hindi ka ba binigyan sa barangay’ (I tried to ask for a booklet. They wouldn’t give me one because they said it was given individually. I was asked, ‘Weren’t you given one in the barangay’)?”
“Tapos ‘yung nagsasalita du’n, puro achievements nga ni Marcos ‘yung binabanggit (And then the speaker there talked of nothing but Marcos’ achievements),” he added.
However, he said other attendees admitted “hindi nila alam kung ano meron at kung ano ibibigay sa kanila (did not know why they were there and what they would be given).”
PHOTOS OF THE CROWD GATHERED AT UPLB: