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Marcos Quits, Flees Palace : Besieged Leader Flown Out on U.S. Copters With Family : Spending Night at Clark Base; Aquino Takes Over

February 25, 1986|United Press International

MANILA — Exhausted, sick and abandoned by all but his closest cronies, Ferdinand E. Marcos today surrendered the presidency he held with an iron fist for 20 years and flew to the safety of a U.S. military base and an expected "safe haven" in the United States. Washington quickly recognized the new government of Corazon Aquino.

Within hours, thousands of jubilant Filipinos stormed the gates of the presidential palace, overwhelmed civilian guards and swarmed into the ornate Spanish-style mansion in a frenzied spree of looting and destruction.

Millions of others celebrated in the streets.

Marcos' flight, ending a four-day rebellion led by two top military leaders, came after he reached agreement to exchange his office for safe passage for himself and his family. He was flown by helicopter with his entourage to the U.S. Clark Air Base, 60 miles north of Manila, for the night.

Only nine hours earlier, a tearful Marcos had taken the oath of office as the disputed winner of the fraud-tainted Feb. 7 election against Aquino. At the same time, Aquino, widow of slain opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino Jr., took the oath of office as the nation's seventh president in a rival ceremony.

TV Transmitter Seized

Television coverage of the Marcos "inauguration" was cut off after pro-Aquino forces seized the transmitter but not before it was clear that even Marcos' running mate, Arturo Tolentino, was absent from the ceremony inside the palace walls.

Dabbing at his eyes and with his wife fighting back tears, the 68-year-old leader appeared on a balcony after the ceremony to tell his supporters that he would remain in office.

"We can solve our problems with your help," his wife, Imelda, said as the crowd chanted, "Martial law, martial law."

"I will offer you my life to the last breath," Marcos said.

First official word of Marcos' decision to quit came in Washington, where Secretary of State George P. Shultz said the United States is "prepared to offer safe haven" to the former president, his family members and close associates.

"President Marcos is welcome to come to the United States, but I don't believe any decision has been made by him about where he will go," Shultz said.

Marcos' Decision Praised

Shultz extended recognition to "President Aquino" and praised Marcos for deciding to step down, saying the Philippine strongman was "reluctant" to leave his post. (Story on Page 2).

The 53-year Aquino--sworn into office as the mother of her slain husband silently watched--appealed for national reconciliation in a brief inaugural speech.

"I call on all those countrymen of ours who are not yet with us to join us at the earliest possible time so that together we will rebuild our beautiful country," the nation's first woman president said.

Faced with the growing military mutiny, widespread civilian unrest and U.S. pressure to resign in the wake of the election, Marcos and his party of about 30 boarded four U.S. Air Force helicopters under cover of darkness and flew to Clark Air Base, one of two major U.S. military installations in the nation.

Officials did not say who was evacuated besides Marcos himself; Imelda, 57; their son, Ferdinand Jr., 27; two daughters, Imee Manotoc, 30, and Irene Araneta, 25, and three grandchildren.

Large U.S. Landholdings

Reagan Administration officials said Marcos planned to spend the night at Clark but gave no word on his final destination. Marcos has large landholdings in the United States and is expected to seek asylum there.

Marcos' military chief, Gen. Fabian Ver, is believed to have fled with him. Shultz indicated that Ver would also be permitted in the United States.

Earlier, three soldiers loyal to Marcos were shot to death by rebellious troops trying to seize control of a television transmission facility.

The deaths raised to 12 the number of people killed since Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos launched the military revolt Saturday against Marcos and in support of Aquino.

Enrile, 62, was reappointed defense minister by Aquino in one of her first acts as president.

'We Have Started Right'

Ramos, 58, appointed by Aquino as chief of staff of the new "Armed Forces of the People" and promoted to full general, appeared on state-run television today and urged Filipinos "to avoid premature celebrations or premature jubilation" and not to storm the palace. When a rampage did develop, he said he would send troops to secure the palace.

"That is not the property of Mr. Marcos," Ramos said. "That is the property of the people. . . . We have started right. Let us not destroy this now that we have reached victory."

"In the midst of all this jubilation, we should be humble in victory," cautioned Cardinal Jaime Sin, Archbishop of Manila. "After Good Friday comes Easter Sunday. After winter comes spring."

In a series of directives, Aquino called for the resignation of all appointed government officials, beginning with members of the Supreme Court. She asked civil service workers "to stay in place."

Aquino appointed her vice presidential running mate, Salvador Laurel, 57, as prime minister-designate.

Other Nations Follow Suit

Many other countries quickly followed the United States in recognizing the Aquino government.

Aquino took her oath at a suburban sports club as two helicopters flown by rebel air force pilots circled overhead and dozens of soldiers stood guard.

As her five children and mother-in-law, Aurora Aquino, 76, looked on, Aquino called for national reconciliation, saying she is "very magnanimous in victory."

Aquino ended her speech by asking about 800 guests assembled for the hastily called ceremonies to join her in the Lord's Prayer. A jubilant crowd of 7,000 outside chanted "Cory, Cory."

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