The case of Francis Leo Marcos: Issues linked to the internet personality also known as ‘Norman Mangusin’

May 20, 2020 - 5:05 PM
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Francis Leo Marcos
Francis Leo Marcos, also known as Norman Masungin, arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation on May 19, 2020. (Photo from National Bureau of Investigation Public Information Office)

The name of “Francis Leo Marcos,” an online personality who authorities believe is Norman Mangusin in real life, surfaced once more when he was arrested and revealed to be linked with other issues and controversies.

Marcos was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday for violating the revised Optometry Law of 1985, also known as Republic Act 8050, after allegedly distributing unauthorized eyeglasses in Baguio City.

NBI-Cybercrime Division Chief Victor Lorenzo said that Marcos distributed eyeglasses without prior approval and permission from professional associations.

He added that NBI is also verifying other charges against the online personality, namely qualified human trafficking in a Manila court and violence against women and children in a Nueva Ecija court.

Lorenzo said that Marcos is also under investigation by several units of the bureau and added that there pending complaints of estafa about the internet personality.

Marcos was known for perpetuating the “Mayaman Challenge” on the internet where he urged wealthy people to help the impoverished during the enhanced community quarantine.

He also uploaded videos of his supposed efforts to give financial aid on his YouTube channel, where he has over one million subscribers.

There are also Facebook groups and pages dedicated to him which has thousands of members and followers as well. All of them are under the moniker “Francis Leo Marcos.”

A deeper look at ‘FLM’

Marcos’ arrest prompted some Filipinos to recall the other issues he was previously linked with based on news reports and articles.

A Twitter user recounted that the online personality was tagged as a nuisance candidate by the Commission on Elections during the 2013 elections when he attempted to run as a senator under the name Francis Leo Marcos.

The online user speculated that Marcos’s recent attempts of “philanthropy” could be his way of getting “votes” for the upcoming 2022 elections.

Based on reports, Marcos attempted to run as an independent candidate but he was weeded out by the Comelec since he was only 33 at that time. The minimum age requirement for a senatorial candidate is 35 years old.

Meanwhile, a cursory search at the name he uses, Francis Leo Marcos, wields several Facebook profiles.

Most of profiles claim that Marcos works as a chief executive officer of the “Marcos Group of Companies” since 2005 but a look at Google does not wield an official website nor legitimate news reports about it.

Interaksyon also learned that there is no such business registered with the Department of Trade and Industry.

It is similarly non-existent in LinkedIn and social media sites as well.

Business registration search with DTI. (Screenshot by Interaksyon)

One of Marcos’ Facebook profiles indicated that he attended the Massachusets Institute of Technology (MIT) at the United States but an online user in Quora, a question-and-answer platform, claimed that it is not true.

Typing the name Francis Leo Marcos does not yield relevant results on MIT’s website about his supposed stay and there are no links supporting the claim that he was one of its students.

The same goes for typing Norman Mangusin in the prestigious university’s website.

There are similarly no legitimate news reports that claim MIT was associated with the online personality.

Interaksyon has directly inquired MIT about Mangusin’s supposed records but has yet to receive a reply.

A Marcos kin?

Marcos claimed in a recent interview with the Philippine Entertainment Portal that his mother told him that “Francis Leo Marcos” is his “real name.”

He claimed that his mother supposedly revealed his “real name” when she saw him struggling in life.

“Noong nakikita nila na ako’y nahihirapan, umiyak ang aking nanay. Ang sabi niya, ‘Ito ka. Anak, ito yung totoong pangalan mo,'” Marcos said.

But an article by Mindanao Daily News revealed that former senator Bongbong Marcos through his spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, denied Mangusin’s claims of being related to the clan.

“We wish to clarify that Mr. Norman Mangusin a.k.a. Francis Leo Marcos is unrelated in any way to the Marcos family. Moreover, he does not represent the interests of the Marcos family,” Rodriguez said in a statement he initially sent to the news outlet.

“We hope that this clarification will finally set the record straight regarding Mr. Mangusin and his purported relations to the family,” he added.

Rodriguez also sent a copy of the same statement to Interaksyon upon verification.

The lawyer in the statement added that former Rep. Imelda Marcos (Ilocos Norte, Second District) has previously asked NBI to have Mangusin “investigated,” along with other personalities who claim to be part of the Marcos family.

Rodriguez also gave Interaksyon a copy of Imelda’s letter to the bureau dated July 8, 2019 which states that her legal team has found “very disturbing” details about Francis Leo.

It reads:

“Mr. Francis Leo Mangusin: has claimed that he is the son of Dr. Pacifico Marcos, the brother of my late husband and that he has been chosen by the Marcos family as the custodian of alleged wealth which we are not possession of; he uses my photographs on social media after photo opportunities and has produced a film positioning him as a signatory to the world’s wealth; he targets wealthy Chinese businessmen who want to do business in the Philippines and attracts them thru charitable causes.” 

Lorenzo said that the bureau has “retrieved” documents indicating that Francis Leo Marcos is Norman Mangusin.

“He submitted a passport na Francis Leo Marcos tapos isang dokumento naman na Norman Mangusin. So which is which? Pero kami, naniniwala kami that his real name is Norman Mangusin,” he told reporters.

A news report also said that the law enforcement agency “is in the process of verifying Marcos’ true name which is ‘Norman Mangusin.'”

“We are in the process of verifying the true identity because we have been receiving reports that he had been using the name before, Norman Mangusin,” NBI spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin was quoted as saying to reporters.