PHILIPPINES - Karl Marx said, "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as a farce."
Corruption has been a recurring theme in the rise and fall of governments in the Philippines since it became an independent republic in 1946.
In 1962, the reformist administration of President Diosdado Macapagal was rocked to its foundations by the Harry Stonehill corruption scandal, in which the government deported the American ex-GI in World War II turned multimillionaire industrialist during the postwar reconstruction period, on charges of tax evasion, economic sabotage, blackmail and corruption of public officials, on a scale not previously reported in the Philippine press.
The government's case was built on 35 truckloads of documents seized by 200 agents of the National Bureau of Investigation in raids on March 3, 1962, on 27 offices and corporations in Manila controlled by Stonehill.
The prize catch of these raids was the so-called Stonehill Blue Book, a ledger that listed more than 200 officials who received money from him in the course of his transactions with them. What made the Blue Book politically explosive was that it contained entries that showed the president himself and the leading Liberal Party senator, Ferdinand Marcos, took money from Stonehill, a revelation that devastated Macapagal's moralising claim that his New Era Administration was committed to eradicate graft and corruption in the government.