Murder most foul: Marcos' youthful exuberance

Buddy Gomez

Posted at Sep 09 2015 09:29 PM | Updated as of Sep 10 2015 08:24 AM

Lest we forget, Ferdinand E. Marcos was a convicted murderer by the time he was 22 years old for an assassination he committed when he was barely 18.

But he was also a bar topnotcher, for which national examinations he prepared and reviewed while spending sometime in jail. Truly attractive and politically alluring as story-telling goes. And on appeal, in his own defense before the Supreme Court, the judgement of guilty was reversed. But not the judgement of history, as it turned out.

His crime and conviction finessed over time and nudged out of public consciousness by claims of WWII heroics supervening, he entered politics and won. Winning really, really big!

Emboldened by having literally gotten away with murder, he continued to layer his life’s story with self-adulating embellishments, with claims of very attractive and dramatic feats that were to remain unchallenged for a long, long time. Audacious and cunning, his political victories mounted until the crown of the Presidency was his, which he eventually refused to give up.

The Marcos cult was born, nurtured and capitalized upon. Nevertheless, poetic justice finally catching up, an ignominious history of deception, fakery and fraudulence finally revealed. The unalterable judgement of history is nothing but harsh.

Let us cut to the chase and encapsulate how that Marcos murder story came to pass.

The Crime

It was the first elections called for under the law that created the Commonwealth of the Philippines. September 19, 1935. The position of Assemblyman for the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte province was at stake. Old hometown political rivalries, always fierce in the Ilocos, was once again stoked between Ferdinand’s father, Mariano Marcos (twice elected Assemblyman, earlier) and Julio Nalundasan who had unseated old man Marcos in an immediately preceding election. They were pitted once again in that 1935 election. And again, when the ballot tally came in, Nalundasan was to demolish Marcos.

Old-timers recall that in celebratory braggadocio, the Nalundasan partisans paraded in motorized convoy through the principal towns of Ilocos Norte, even carrying a coffin marked “Mariano Marcos” symbolic of political demise. While in Batac, hometown of both Marcos and Nalundasan, the parade passed in front and lingered a while in front of the Marcos residence. Perhaps chanting tauntingly. Nalundasan himself was not present.

Of course, it was insulting, infuriating and humiliating. And provocative. Bad blood had cause to turn into cold blood. Cold blooded revenge! In the dead of the night, September 20, Julio Nalundasan was shot and killed, from a window in the rear of his house. A detail of the case states--while Nalundasan was brushing his teeth!

After three three years of dogged investigations by the Philippine Constabulary and the Department of Justice’s Division of Investigation (precursor of today’s NBI), interrupted by the indictment and the acquittal of an intervening suspect, the provincial prosecuting attorney (fiscal) charged Ferdinand E. Marcos with the premeditated murder of Julio Nalundasan. Charged along with him were his father and uncle--Mariano and Pio, and his father’s brother-in-law, Quirino Lizardo.

The Conviction and the Sentence

In January 11, 1940, the Court of First Instance of Laoag, Ilocos Norte handed down its decision. Ferdinand E. Marcos was convicted of murder and sentenced to imprisonment of 10 to 17 years, a relative leniency apparently brought about by his still tender years. The sentence was handed down by Judge Roman Cruz, Sr. He was the father of ‘JV’ Cruz, political columnist and a Marcos-appointed ambassador and a staunch apologist. Another son was ‘Jun’ Cruz (Roman Cruz, Jr.), once Imelda’s favorite financial manager who headed the Government Service Insurance System and the Philippine Air Lines, after the Marcoses grabbed the company away from Benny Toda.

The Acquittal

The rest of the story? On appeal before the Supreme Court, Judge Cruz’s decision was reversed. The youthful Ferdinand was acquitted of the murder of his father’s political enemy. The Supreme Court ponente (author of the decision) was Justice Jose P. Laurel, Sr. (The more curious ones with time on their hands may wish to refer to GR No. L-47388 /October 22, 1940, Nalundasan Murder case...Google it!)

The Admission

A few years after Marcos joined the Romualdez clan of Leyte through his marriage to Imelda, a cousin-in-law--the accomplished and respected Dr. Domingo Abella had occasion to converse with Marcos during an afternoon clan soiree. Dr. Abella of the Naga, Camarines Sur Abellas is a medical doctor by profession and an avid historian by avocation. He was Director of the National Library at one time. He was also married to a Romualdez--Milagring, Imelda’s first cousin.

During that conversation, long before Ferdinand became President, Dr. Abella had occasion to bring up the matter of the Nalundasan murder in their leisurely tete a tete. At that time. Ferdinand Marcos’ fame and notoriety was still punctuated by that murder/bar topnotching/acquittal episode in his life. Many still remembered the celebrated case of a bar topnotcher being acquitted of murdering his father’s electoral opponent in the 1935 elections. (This episode is recounted in Beatriz Romualdez- Francia’s historical account: “Imelda and the Clans: A story of the Philippines.”)

Imelda’s niece by a first cousin, Beatriz, recalled that Marcos replied rather blithely, simply finessed out of that Nalundasan topic brought about by Dr. Abella’s pointed curiosity by saying with some nonchalance: “Dala lang sa kabataan ko ‘yon.” ( “that was merely brought about by my youth!”)

Here was a principal participant in a premeditated murder and he was cool and callous. Marcos’ reply was indeed an admission, with a trifling dismissal of having committed a murder most foul as simply having been caused by “youthful exuberance!”

This is the murder Marcos literally got away with. The acquittal--no matter how it may have been gained and won is for others to divine--must have been heady, intoxicating and emboldening, to become the lynchpin of Marcosian behavior henceforth.

Lest we ever forget, it is a matter of recorded history that Ferdinand E. Marcos began his public career with murder for which he was convicted. Youthful exuberance, he was to claim. How nice !!! ???

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