PHILIPPINES

Sharing a milestone

ROBERT MILLER June 16 1986
PHILIPPINES

Sharing a milestone

ROBERT MILLER June 16 1986

Sharing a milestone

PHILIPPINES

After years of political differences and personal enmity, the lives of Philippines President Corazón Aquino and former strongman Ferdinand Marcos remain inextricably entangled. Their apparent destinies seem to be linked as well. She is the leader of a deeply troubled nation of 54 million. He lives in unhappy exile in a $1.5million rented house, which he says is just “a grenade toss from the road” on the outskirts of Honolulu. Their relationship even encompasses common milestones. And last week, as Aquino marked her 100th day in power with a series of public appearances, the man she supplanted on Feb. 25 passed his 100th day outside of his country.

While Aquino submitted to a succession of television interviews and declared that she had made progress toward a ceasefire with Communist insurgents, Marcos grimly maintained that he was reduced to living on the charity of his friends—a man who wants to move elsewhere but who lacks a valid passport.

In Manila Marcos is not forgotten-

in large part because Aquino and her financially strapped government are still attempting to recover some of the estimated $15 billion that they accuse the former president of misappropriating. In Hawaii, while many of the islands’ Filipino community of 125,000 support Marcos, there have been several initiatives to send him elsewhere.

Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi says that he is not welcome in Hawaii “as long as he still claims to be president of the Philippines.” In April state Senator Duke Kawasaki asked that Marcos find refuge somewhere else because of what he described as his “plundering” of his country. And officials in Washington have been unsuccessful in their efforts to find Marcos a new home. Among the states that have refused to accept him are Spain, Taiwan and Panama. Said Richard Kessler, a senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington: “Marcos will likely stay in Hawaii until he dies.”

It is an unpleasant prospect for a man who had become accustomed to

wealth and power. The president-in-exile and his wife, Imelda, have attempted to present the appearance of genteel poverty. In her few public appearances since arriving in Hawaii, Imelda Marcos has consistently worn the same green dress and black shoes, repeatedly telling questioners that she cannot afford new clothes. And acccording to visitors, their new residence is marked by touches that are distinctly homely: rows of bedroom slippers lined up outside the master bedroom, plastic dishes in the kitchen cabinets and a hallway piled high with suitcases, z In the presidential Mala§ cañang Palace in Manila,

Imelda maintained one of I history’s most lavish wardP robes, including an estimated o 3,000 pairs of shoes. By con-

trast, their current home is a comfortable four-bedroom, four-bathroom beach-front house in the Niu Valley, 13 km east of Honolulu. But the exiled couple may soon be able to resume their former standard of living: on Friday U.S. Judge Harold Fong ordered that money, jewelry and other Marcos wealth worth $7 million seized by the U.S. Custom service when they arrived in Hawaii should be released to them. Judge Fong ruled Marcos should be classified a distinguished foreign visitor and not subject to customs duty.

But during an appearance on the NBC morning news program Today, Aquino said she did not see Marcos as a man of distinction. She added that his legacy of $26 billion in foreign debt had left her country in urgent need of aid. At least one powerful U.S. politician supports that position. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) said that the United States should add an extra $100 million to the $150 million already pledged to Aquino by President Ronald Reagan. And Secretary of State George Shultz said last week he was “bullish on the Philippines,” adding that he would encourage Americans to invest in the Asian archipelago.

And on her 100th day in power the seemingly tireless 53-year-old former housewife who is now the head of state of her beleaguered nation urged her countrymen not to take freedom for granted. In a televised speech, she added, “What are you going to do for your country in the second hundred days?”

ROBERT MILLER

LIN NEUMANN

TIM RYAN

IAN AUSTEN