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Marcos Says He Left to Avoid Spilling Blood

March 01, 1986|DAVID HOLLEY | Times Staff Writer

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii — Former Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos said Friday that he could have ordered a massive military crackdown when elements of his armed forces rebelled, "but that would have resulted in the bloody carnage of innocent civilians."

With his wife, Imelda, sitting by his side during what had been billed as a press conference but turned out to be the mere reading of a brief statement, Marcos, in a firm voice said: "I have been called brave in my time. But brave as I may have been against foreign invaders, I have no heart to shed Filipino blood."

Marcos also called for peace in his country.

"I implore the entire Filipino people never to forget the ideals and noble objectives which we will obtain only through the peaceful unification of our people," he said.

It was not clear whether Marcos intended his statement to be a response to a call on ABC television's "Good Morning, America" program by newly installed President Corazon Aquino for him to do "whatever you can do to discourage your loyalists from inflicting more harm on our people. . . . "

After reading his statement, which the 68-year-old former president addressed to "My beloved countrymen," Marcos said, "I have been requested not to answer any questions."

He and his wife then rose and left the stage, leaving more than 100 frustrated reporters unable to ask him about reports that he, his family and close associates had brought millions of dollars worth of cash, gold and jewelry to Hawaii in their flight from their homeland.

Some reporters shouted questions anyway, but Marcos said, "The agreement has been established for me and for you."

"By whom?" demanded one reporter.

"By agreement with our own people," Marcos said, showing some irritation in his voice and on his face, as he and his wife departed.

Wanted to Stay

Marcos said in his statement that he had wished to move to Laoag in his home province of Ilocos Norte on the island of Luzon when he finally decided Tuesday to abandon the presidency. But he said he was told by "President Reagan's direct representative" that he and his family should leave for Guam. They arrived here Wednesday after a short layover there.

Marcos' statement did not specify who the Reagan representative was, but U.S. Ambassador Stephen W. Bosworth is known to have been involved in the planning of the evacuation of the Marcos party, first from Malacanang Palace in Manila to the American Clark Air Base, 50 miles northwest of the capital, and then to Guam.

President Aquino said Thursday that a message had been conveyed to her from Marcos on Tuesday, after he had gone to Clark, asking if he would be allowed to go to Ilocos Norte. She said she asked the intermediary if it was a matter of his being near death and wanting to die there. When she was assured that this was not the case, she said, she sent a message saying he would have to leave the country.

Hawaii Gov. George Ariyoshi had told a press conference Wednesday, after meeting with Marcos, that it was the former president's family who insisted that he accompany them to the United States rather than fleeing to his home province.

Tight Security

Marcos' statement Friday was read under tight security, with buses that had brought news crews lined up to shield him from a possible attack from the nearby waters of Pearl Harbor. An unidentified officer said that was a precaution. A Coast Guard cutter patrolled 100 yards offshore and helicopters hovered overhead.

Marcos and his wife emerged from behind a white curtain on a stage at the officers club here and walked a few steps before they were seated behind a table. The exiled former president looked rested, comfortable and not in any apparent ill health during his meeting with reporters. At one point as her husband was reading, Imelda Marcos put on a pair of sunglasses--apparently to hide tears.

Before reading his prepared statement Marcos said, "We have been accommodated very comfortably and treated with utmost respect and generosity."

He added that he had recovered from a "touch of flu that I acquired during the period of confusion in the Philippines."

Since their arrival here, the Marcos entourage has been behind heavy security at Hickam Air Force Base. A group of about 10 demonstrators stood outside the main gate at Hickam on Friday holding anti-Marcos posters including one that said: "No refuge for Marcos."

The former Philippine leader said that he and his family are looking for "private quarters to rent or lease." Some of his close associates own a luxurious estate and a nearby smaller home in Honolulu's affluent Makiki Heights area. Critics claims Marcos and his wife are the real owners.

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