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Marcos Move to Panama May Come Saturday

March 20, 1986|MICHAEL WINES | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Former Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos and his wife, Imelda, have been granted permission to live in Panama and plan to fly there Saturday, ending a beleaguered three-week stay on a heavily guarded U.S. Air Force base in Hawaii, a source with direct knowledge of the plans said Wednesday.

One of Marcos' two sons-in-law is now in Panama preparing for the arrival, and Justice Department officials are close to settling the last legal details of the trip, according to the source, who asked not to be identified.

The former president will receive written assurances that he can return to the United States at will and "I think he has every intention of coming back" to live in this country permanently once the furor over his 20 years of rule dies down, the source said.

'Temporary Agreement'

"His agreement with Panama is temporary, not permanent," he said.

A spokesman for the Panamanian Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the report, but a senior official at the State Department, which assisted Marcos in his search for a new home, said that plans for the resettlement are essentially complete.

"All that remains is to make the announcement," he said.

In Panama, President Eric A. Delvalle said Wednesday night that Marcos had asked for asylum, and "I am going to call a meeting of my governmental team so they can consider" the request, United Press International reported.

The Marcoses will fly by U.S. military aircraft to an undisclosed location in Panama with about half of the 89-person retinue that fled with them after Marcos' regime fell Feb. 25. The remainder of the staff either will resettle in the United States or will return to the Philippines, according to the source.

Their departure from Hawaii awaits only the completion of "travel documents" needed to gain formal entry to Panama and to guarantee unrestricted travel to and from the United States.

Marcos has been discreetly searching for a new location for his exile for some time, but the decision to move on Saturday came only after he concluded that a barrage of media attention and lawsuits made it impossible for him to remain in Hawaii.

Had Planned to Stay

He and his wife, Imelda, earlier had planned to remain on the island, moving from a two-bedroom bungalow at Hickam Air Force Base to housing in the Honolulu area. But the continuing controversy over his rule and allegations that he stole vast sums of money during his reign made it difficult to find a secure house in Hawaii and caused potential sellers to back away from any deal.

The source denied reports that the 68-year-old Marcos had become deeply depressed by his virtual imprisonment on the air base. But the publicity and confinement has strained Imelda Marcos, an international traveler who thrived on Philippine ceremonial and social duties, the source acknowledged.

Once in Panama, Marcos is expected to hire a public-relations consultant to cope with news media inquiries and perhaps to begin work on an autobiography.

Extradition Seen Unlikely

Marcos decided on Panama after personal negotiations drew an official, although unwritten, invitation from Panamanian leaders to move there. Panama maintains an extradition treaty with the United States but the source said Marcos believes it highly unlikely that U.S. officials can or would seek to return him to this country for either a criminal or civil trial.

Singapore's ambassador to the Philippines, Abdulaziz ibn Mahmood, said Wednesday that Marcos had been offered temporary asylum there on Feb. 24, the day before his government fell and he fled the Philippines, but that that offer had later been withdrawn because of opposition from the new Philippine government of President Corazon Aquino.

Marcos telephoned Singapore last Friday and requested permission to stay there for two or three weeks, Mahmood said.

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