YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Fled to Avoid Carnage, Marcos Says : Ex-Philippine Leader Makes 1st Public Statement in Exile

March 02, 1986|From Times Wire Services

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii — Ex-Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, in his first public statement since going into exile on Wednesday, said Friday that he avoided bloody carnage of innocent civilians by leaving the country, declaring: "I have no heart to shed Filipino blood."

He said he had wanted to go to Laoag City, in Ilocos Norte, his home province on Luzon Island, but was told by a representative of President Reagan that he would have to leave for Guam.

He stayed for 12 hours in Guam after four days of street battles in the Philippines before going into exile in a two-bedroom cottage here.

Marcos said he had to decide whether to attack rebel military units--who precipated the latest crisis--or negotiate.

"This situation came to a point that, although I had control of superior military power and several opportunities to employ it, the employment of such an overwhelming force, no matter how legitimate, would have resulted in the bloody carnage of innocent civilians.

"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.

"My life has been devoted to the upliftment of the Filipino by reestablishing his identity and dignity.

"And so, knowing I could lose everything, I chose to use my authority to protect the Filipino people."

He said: "Now, from where I am, I implore you never to forget the ideals and noble objectives which we will attain only through the peaceful unification of our people."

Marcos ended by saying: "I remain your humble servant. Ferdinand E. Marcos. Feb. 28, 1986."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Customs Service reported Friday that Marcos brought millions of dollars of currency into the United States, and U.S. authorities are withholding his personal effects until they determine if they were brought here legally.

Spokesman Dennis Murphy for the Customs Service earlier said the currency brought by Marcos and his 90-person entourage that fled Manila did not violate U.S. laws.

But Murphy said the agency is "still in the process of sorting things out" by matching possessions with their owners. "Everything must be declared," he said. "We have to determine if everything is."

New questions about the immense wealth Marcos brought to the United States surfaced later, with CBS reporting that the entire episode could prove to be a major embarrassment for the Reagan Administration, which invited Marcos to bring his personal effects with him to the United States.

Philippine officials said they would demand the United States return the planeload of merchandise directly to Manila.

In New York, the new Philippine government also announced it had hired a legal group to try to recover billions of dollars worth of U.S. holdings it contends Marcos purchased with money stolen from the Filipino people.

CBS said the possessions on the U.S. Air Force planes, which customs officials said were worth more than $30 million, were being held by U.S. authorities at Hickam Air Force Base. It added that the material includes 22 crates of Philippine pesos worth $1.1 million.

'Sensitive Documents'

The network also reported that officials had discovered some "very sensitive documents" in Marcos aide Gen. Fabian Ver's luggage "related to charges that the Marcos regime funneled U.S. military aid to a phony corporation."

In Manila Friday, President Corazon Aquino ordered that all political prisoners of the Marcos regime be freed, including some suspected of being top communist rebels. Reluctant military chiefs said they would obey.

She acted in response to criticism that she was not being decisive enough and had shown more magnanimity to Marcos, whose two decades of personal rule ended with his flight, than to some of his enemies.

Aquino has said she will not ask the United States to extradite Marcos.

The slow process of releasing the more than 500 political prisoners held in military camps around the country began Thursday, with an initial group of 39. By Friday night, only 16 had actually gone home and 23 remained in special centers.

Return From Exile

Raul Manglapus, a former senator, returned from 14 years of voluntary exile in the United States and met immediately with Aquino. She suspended most employees of the government film center in the first move against grandiose and expensive institutions established by Imelda Marcos, the former first lady.

Thousands of people marched through the financial district to celebrate Aquino's victory. Dozens of others picketed the Supreme Court, demanding that its 13 members resign so that she can reorganize the judiciary.

Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile pledged to free the prisoners, but did not appear happy about it.

"We are bound by the order of the president. If she issues that order, we will carry it out," he said in a television interview shortly after Rene Saguisag, Aquino's official spokesman, announced the new president's order.

Military Rebellion

Los Angeles Times Articles