thumbnail of In Our Image: The United States and the Philippines; Interview With Ferdinand Marcos
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Excuse me, Stanley. Oh, I'm sorry. [laughter] Caught you naked. There you go. Could you define what your relationship was with the United States? Do you think the Americans understood what you were doing? Do you think the United States understood what you were trying to do in the Philippines? I think they did and they were in favor of what I was doing not only for my first two terms in the presidency but all the way to February of... 1986. But there were some misunderstandings. The relationship is so complicated. It's both emotional as well as intellectual or mental. It is not an easy thing to define.
For instance, how do you define the emotional relationship of your fighting beside an American soldier? And your blood fertilizing our beloved land? How do you define a relationship where the Filipinos were ready to die for the same ideals? But you did know. This seems a little exaggerated. But it was true that we were so committed to your ideal, that although our grandfathers fought you, including my own grandfather, who had the revolutionary forces against Spain, then against your troops in 1896, 1898 up to 1902.
Under Aguinaldo was the president of the First Republic. How do you define this relationship which established the first national integrated school system in all of Southeast Asia? Americans put it up and we lapped it up like hungry and thirsty people inasmuch as the Spaniards had succeeded in wiping out our entire culture in almost 350 years of domination and colonization under the cross and the flower. Under the cross, they dominated most of the country and whom they could not dominate, they brought within the bells of the church with the cross.
It might be said that the Spaniards somehow indirectly brought about unity among the tribes in the Philippines and gave them us one of the unifying factors, a religion, which of course were rejected by the Muslims in the South and rejected by the... I wouldn't say paganism of the North, because in the North, the mountain people and those like me, or like my forebears, believed in one God, a creator, we had a different story of the genesis of man, but we believed in a powerful creator. We believed in punishment and reward,
some sort of heaven and hell, and limbo, and all of these worked into a Catholicism that had its marks of the old pagan rites: fiestas, dances, and flagellation, sacrifice, things which were done in both the South, but remained ?unconquered? and the Northern tribes. When you look back on the American relationship of the Philippines... The negative sides of it? The negative side was that the Americans were not free of the economic and material motives. The idea of treating Filipinos as brown brothers,
and at the same time, and not giving them the means by which to adopt democracy to our system because you in America did not have any class problem. The pilgrim fathers and all those, your certain states that declared their independence, were of equal rank, and therefore there was no schism, there was no division in the classes, whereas in the Philippines, we had a feudal state. Now, a feudal state must be molded properly in order that we can use the infrastructure of a feudal state to tailor itself,
or shall we say to listen to... to make our society a Lincolnian type of democracy for the people, by the people, and for by and with the people, through the people. It brought about also a set of, I mean your teachings brought about a set of values which were not really understood by our people at the beginning. Values like social justice, values like every man is equal. Now, the tribal beliefs and the beliefs of following the elders,
which is Asian, not just Philippines, which gives respect to the elders as the proper guides of society, clashed immediately with the free voting system and choice in your American libertarian ideal. This was the conflict actually, which we had to– the dichotomy, which we had to settle, and America had difficulty in accepting the fact that democracy cannot just be adopted over a year, or two years, or even 50 years, without some kind of participation on the part of those who would practice democracy and freedom.
May I say that actually you may have spoiled us too much. You might have made us too dependent upon America. Although you were not exactly philanthropic in many ways, our trade was such that you sent in goods to the Philippines or paying taxes, but we paid taxes in the United States. But we took this as meaning the regular trading, which would benefit us as well as you, even if later on the young thinkers, like Quezon, Osmeña, and among them the leaders of the other decade, Roxas, my father, and the others, Laurel.
But this meant that you had made us dependent upon the United States. Now, and this was one of our problems. Just let me ask you personally, you used the term, little brown brother. Did you feel like a little brown brother? In many ways, yes, even during the war. How? Our friends, the Americans, have a tendency to be patronizing. Now, we, who are educated [on] American[s], we understand that this is your way of trying to be nice of helping out a younger brother. But to the datu, the sultan, who has always been treated like a king, for you to put his back and say, "I want you in there, and do it for me." That's an insult, that's an offense. But, you know, you keep on doing it, and throwing it to the face of the little brown brothers
and, of course, this goes all the way back also to the inhuman treatment on both sides. Let us say that the massacre in Samar of American soldiers. This was brought about by a massacre of villages along that particular area, which later MacArthur was to be assigned to for topographical and mapping study, and Bataan, and the other. That's why he knew so much of the battleground. When you talk about this... ...betrayed or let down by the United States? Now, let's go back three years before then. When I was on a state visit to the United States, I began to feel that there was some kind of conspiracy
in the media because I was hit with one of the most libelous and unacceptable insults in a man's life. I was charged with falsifying my decorations, and this to me is unforgivable. Considering what everybody who fought in the war knows, and I should have realized that then and there, that this was the beginning of a black propaganda campaign, which was being propagated or initiated by certain quarters. Of course, fueled by my opposition then, as well as the communists, and the Moro National Liberation Front.
Of course, there are the natural liberals, socialists, who never understood that I was more liberal than they were, and the my radical reforms were not exactly socialism, but actually different aspects and dimension of social justice, which is one of your prime purposes in a democracy. After that, when I went back home, I started getting the feeling that I was being ?handled?. Suggestions were made as to who the Chief of Staff should be, and they pointedly suggested to me that it should be this man, and not the incumbent. And immediately, I unfortunately, obstinately reacted with some irritation,
which some Americans would call the temerity of this young boy. But I told them, when there were these suggestions, like a senator saying to me, "if I were running the country, this is what I would do. And this is what you should be doing." And I said, "you are not. But I will take your advice." And so the conversation, I said, "the official conversation is now terminated. We are not talking as friends." No, I don't think many of them like that. When I objected to children of senators or of congressmen making their own reports, and, should we say, what's this Kennedy score of American Peace Corps? American Peace Corps started submitting intelligence reports.
Questions were raised. There was a time when we refused to give them passports because they were being used as intelligence agents. We were beginning to feel that some of them were CIA, and that some of the correspondence were also CIA. As I said, I should have been more patient probably. I should have laughed this off, but we were in a difficult time. In '83. You remember, there was this stagnlation all over the world. They called it stagflation. Then the Mexican default of indebtedness, which immediately placed in doubt the continued extension of credit to the third world countries,
including the Philippines. We were immediately among the 35 nations, who sought the help of the IMF and the World Bank, and also some of your own banks here. So, there were 483 private banks all over the world, headed by your big banks, which had always lent us 3 billion and a half in what they called trade credits, for the purchase of the raw materials, mostly from the United States, equipment, spare parts, technology, management, the five elements of production. Then the stagflations throughout the world stopped all of these trade credits
and went to work to re-establish our creditability, credit worthiness, and also the oil shocks. If you will remember there were two oil shocks, '74, '75. Our rate of growth was 10%. We immediately dove. To 5-6% But still, that was workable, considering that in '84, '85, the big industrial countries also suffered the same dive in their economic performance, especially in production and exports. The reduction was almost one-half. From 4.2 percent growth to 2.2 thereabouts. And so when you ask, when I am asked,
"why were you suffering all of this reduction in growth?" It was a world phenomenon. It was not limited to us alone. Let me just go back. Are we on? Go ahead. Senator Laxalt came after so many other delegations had come. I'm sorry, sir. I couldn't follow you there. I'm sorry. Senator Laxalt came sometime in November, early November. He came after other delegations. This was also upon the invitation, on our invitation to all those interested in watching the affairs, the occurrences in the Philippines because there were now charges and counter charges.
Somehow the opposition had become very articulate and only their stories were getting to print and getting to voice media. So I welcome, I invited any delegation coming from Congress, whether from the Senate or from the House. And they came, even Mr. Kasey came. Mr. Solar came. Mr. Lugar, Senator Kerry. Senator, who was this? A delegation of congressmen with the Solar was Solomon? And all the others. They all had their own ideas about what was happening
and I told them that the problem was twofold. Could you focus on the Laxalt one, that seems to be the most interesting? Well, yes. I told Senator Laxalt the same thing I told everybody, that the problem in the Philippines was now becoming twofold. This was the economic crisis and next the insurgency. That they were connected by an umbilical cord and communism or insurgency because I don't think that communists are communist believers or even understand what communism is. They talk about ownership of land. And you know, communism does not allow ownership of land. And yet that is their fighting motto, land for the landless.
And Senator Laxalt thought that just like the others, thought that I, in view of the confusion, it might be easy for me to resolve disunity with the dichotomy in the Philippine society if I obtained the fresh mandate from the people. And that was it. I consulted the party. The party was divided, and I had to make a decision. We decided to call a snap election, provided the American government would not intervene, and that the massive black propaganda and conspiracy in the media to defame me and libel me and to even falsify the actual facts occurring in the Philippines.
And I should have been alert to that. I realized late in the day that the conspiracy was long, long in the making. And it had started in '82, '83, '84, '85. But even then, I should not have committed the mistake of falling for the trap. I should never have called a snap election. Could you say that again, you should never have called a snap election? I should never have called a snap election with this conspiracy. Even the US Embassy was beginning to work against me, and I say this openly. You have been quoted saying that there was American pressure on you to hold a snap election. Is that correct? No, I wouldn't say that there was American pressure. There was a suggestion.
No, no, no. Let's be frank. The head of state should not be subjected to pressure. You know, you receive all kinds of advice. But it's up to you to make the decision. Even if it may temporarily offend some people, that their advice is not taken. It was my doing. I accept the blame. So, looking back, you say it was a mistake on your part. What do you think you should have done? I should have attended to crisis. The IMF was sniffing at our heels and checking on what we did with the money, and we made a good accounting, but there was a question as to deficits which were growing from nine it went up to 11,
and then it threatened to go to 13. The deficit in the budget. Well, of course, now it's 20, 28, 29, even 30 billion. And this is what is bugging the Aquino administration. But in addition to that, I caught the appropriations of the military, just like every other office, 25%, and that paralyzed the armed forces. Instead of spending this money for elections, because we spend usually about a billion pesos for the elections, no matter what kind. The list that you spend is about a billion because we have about 54 million people, and about 24 million voters and the number of voters coming out to vote is usually high, especially in both local and the presidential election.
What I'm saying is instead of cutting the budget of the military, we should not have spent that money for the election and put it in the military. I did put half a billion in the military and we were hard put to maintaining the deficit. But just the same, we held it. I did keep a reserve in the treasury of 28 billion. Where that has gone now, I don't know, because I understand there is no accounting for the money that I kept in the treasury. To the last bitter moment, when I was forced out of Malacañang. Let's go back to that. When you were talking about... You were on very good terms with President Reagan. When you finally got that telephone conversation, you had the telephone conversation
with Senator Laxalt in which he suggested that you leave. In the end, were you...? I beg your pardon. Where did you get this information? Senator Laxalt said it. I don't believe that it was Senator Laxalt who told me this. I never talked to anyone before I left because I could not get anyone. It might have been a conversation after... or before that. Before that when...? Yeah. Before the whole thing started. But I think we might be doing Senator Laxalt an injustice by saying that he suggested that I leave. No. The suggestion was embodied in a... in a telex message from Minister of Labor, Ople, Blas Ople, of my Cabinet, whom I sent to the United States to find out
why all of this conspiracy and to represent me in the councils of government, where we might have a forum. And it said... Secretary Schultz, after what he said, a long intensive study by the President and other high authorities, as... be... bids you to forget... to drop your impressions about having won the election because of massive fraud. These elections will not be, cannot be recognized and therefore suggest that you abandon the office and abandon Malacañang. At the same time, Ambassador Bosworth through my subordinates sent a message,
saying that they would send the Marines, the American Marines against me, and then another message from another aid of another Senator, not Senator Laxalt, saying that not only the Marines will be used against me, but even the gun boats of the United States. And I inquired, "is there no law which says that only the President can employ American armed forces in hostilities, in a war and especially in attack, and he must submit this matter to the Congress, and within 90 days obtain a authorization to continue, otherwise just to stop?" Now, I inquired about all of this, and before I know it,
somebody comes in there representing himself as the representative of President Regan, and I ask, "President Regan already has a representative," and I ask him, "what are your credentials?" "Nothing." I said, "I recognize only Ambassador Bosworth, as the highest representative of the United States in the Philippines. No CIA man, and no head of ?juice mug? of which he was." You know, I don't want to mention him. I don't want to mention him. But that is what happened. I was supposed, no, may I continue? It's integrated because we will break this up, and we will forget all about it. I was supposed to remove my family out because we were attacked by a helicopter. Our own Philippine Air Force helicopter, fueled and armed in Clark Air Force Base by the American military forces.
So I realized that there was some basis for the belief that military forces were being committed against us. And I told my boys, I told all the soldiers and everybody, defending the palace, not to hit back, if they are American military personnel, and to let the Marines land, [and] if they landed, to take pictures, and to set up barricades. But not to fight them. And then, one thing led to another, we were deceived, I was supposed to let my family go, but even I was forced into leaving the palace, and deceived into thinking that we were going either to the U.S. Embassy or to my presidential yacht, official presidential yacht, which would bring us to another camp, which was some Sangley Point,
where we would be free of all this harassment while the officers under my command, directly in the presidential security commander the unit would be defending the palace which we had done several times before, very successfully. '70, '72, and later on, a small attack against the palace. So, that's it. We were told, we were brought to the Clark Air Force Base, we were told we would be brought to Laoag, Ilocos Norte, Then, we were awakened, three o'clock in the morning said, "no, we cannot bring it to Laoag. My orders are to bring you to Guam." I said, "I want the orders in writing." They could not show me anything, there was a big ?draw?. By that time,
they had disarmed us. On the ground, we could not ride any U.S. plane with any army. I was taken out against my consent because they threatened that I would be killed with my entire family in Clark Air Force Base. By the Filipino soldiers themselves who are security for... Now, that is this story, but beyond that, I don't want to talk anymore because right now I have no intention to quarrel with anyone, whether it's Ambassador Bosworth or ?Norm Garet?, the CIA chief, who had admitted that they would be happier if they could remove Marcos from power. They were spreading all kinds of stories like I was about to die in six months. All the intelligence were completely wrong, initiated by...
Just one question, and then we'll finish with this. What are your feelings toward President Reagan? What are your feelings toward President Reagan? I think he was misled. I think Secretary Schultz was misled. Could you just start again and say that. I think President Reagan was misled. I think that he did not know anything that was happening. There was a policy, and that policy was to allow the elections to be finished, and let the Philippine people decide. Beyond that, the lower echelon officers in the State Department, who should have been professionals, then conducted their own operations. Apparently, this is something that happens in your government. It would not happen in ours because of many things. Intelligence comes direct to me,
but we are a smaller country. We have very few problems. I do not blame President Reagan for any of this thing. I think that the... After I talked to him and he later talked to me on this way to Bali, and he passed through here, I realized that he did not know anything about what had happened. Can you remember some of your conversations? No, I cannot talk about it. It is secret. But I reveal that particular aspect only. Let's go back a little bit to history. Wouldn't you agree... I'll just repeat the question. What impact did the American defeat in Vietnam in 1975 have on you in regard to what you felt the [inaudible] capacities were in Asia? It was not the question of the capacity of the United States.
It was the question of foreign policy. What was the foreign policy of the United States? We realized that Congress was a different factor to deal with. Because the Ford the Nixon commitments were not complied with. And this had happened in Africa. I won't go through the whole thing. The confidence in America was eroded, not because of capability, although we were beginning to wonder what was the capacity of the United States in comparison to Russia, the Soviet Union, and we realized that the Soviet Union was building both conventional and nuclear weapons at a very fast rate.
China also was a matter which loomed large in our decision-making, especially among the small nations in Asia, and for that matter, not just the small nations– Japan, India, everybody. However, we felt that a balance of military power in Asia could not be maintained without the United States presence. And this is why we, I personally felt that we should try and maintain that balance of power with the bases facilities, Philippine bases facilities, being given to the American forces formally and we entered into negotiations on this.
You remember that in the Korean War we sent troops to Korea. In 1950, when I was still a congressman, I participated in the study of a mutual defense pack, a [inaudible] and all of this began to tire. The mutual defense pack, military systems agreement, military bases agreement. But when the question arose as to the sovereignty over the military bases, we had to insist that sovereignty was not negotiable. The American government was kind enough to accept it. Notwithstanding Brownell, the Attorney General Brownell claim that sovereignty had transferred to the United States. They having both ?the surface? rights.
And of course, our position was no. So in '79, '78, when President Ford, Vice President Mondale, and Ambassador Murphy talked to us about this, we came to an agreement that, alright, we'll give you all the facilities that you may require, but limit it to one part of the bases, and the bases will now be recognized as part of Philippine territory, and don't talk to us about sovereignty, because it is not indicative of your own policies of non-interference in the internal affairs of an independent country. It does not do as well, neither does it mark you as a very wise leader of freedom lovers. So that's it. We felt, however, and I repeat this, that there must be a balance of power in Asia,
and that cannot be maintained without the capability of the United States, projecting its naval and air power in the South China Sea, through the chalk points that connect the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea, the Malacca Straits, then the Indian Ocean, the Ormos Straits, and Diego Garcia, your next base, considering, therefore, the fact that Vietnam had fallen and the possibility that Russia would be given facilities in Cam Ranh Bay, which even then was supposed to be a price that Vietnam had to pay [inaudibile]. We began to fear that the balance of power may be knocked out
and that the United Nations would be incapable of substituting for the United States. Why did you decide to declare martial law in September 1972? Well, I realized that the society was dying completely. There was a fast irreversible dive into chaos. At that time, business had completely stopped. Our foreign reserves went down [inaudible]. We could not pay any of our debts and most of the families of the businessmen and the higher classes were either getting out of their houses, because they were being threatened and staying in the hotels, or going to the provinces,
although many of them came back later because the provinces would turn sour also. Or they were coming to the United States in self-exile. Then there were seven attempts against my life. The last attempt were run by two Americans, well three, but I think the ones who were caught and confessed were two. Could you go back and tell me about that American plot? Who do you think organized that? Oh, it was Osmeña, Osmeña love his plot. I can frankly talk about this now, because I've forgiven them. After they confessed, we released them. But, as I said, the communists were trying to establish a revolutionary situation.
Tension and bombing. They bombed City Hall of Manila, they planted bombs in the Supreme Court, they bombed the Constitutional Convention in the City Hall of Quezon City, they ambushed so many people, they tried to kidnap General Rommel, they tried to kidnap Ambassador Byroade, and they tried to burn the U.S. Embassy. Let me ask you one thing about...when you decided to declare martial law, did you advise Ambassador Byroade in advance that you were going to do this? I think we advise everybody. We, in fact, offer the coalition government to the opposition.
You know, everybody always thought that Aquino was the leader of the opposition. He was not. The leader of the opposition was the president of the Liberal Party, who was Senator Gerardo Roxas. Unfortunately, he died of cancer. I asked them, I invited them to the palace. I offered them a coalition government, except that I would control finance justice and the military and also the radical reform for social justice. But anyway, they refused. But Aquino very cunningly came back and said, "Why don't we talk?" and I realized that the man was playing a very deep game. I told him, "Yes, why not? But you remember this," I told him,
"You have to get the authority of all the others." [He] said, "you and I can talk about that." Now, what I want to point out was that I also sought the advice of everybody. I sought the advice of indirectly, my American friends. Now, I will not mention the names, but I asked their advice. I asked the advice of the opposition. I called them one by one because I didn't want a gathering where everybody would be playing politician, doesn't want to reveal his fears because everybody was afraid. Everybody was afraid for his life and I even asked the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to inquire from this, what would be his advice. The only question he asked me was, "Is this a military takeover?" I said no.
Here is the book of the American constitutionalist, Rossiter, which is entitled Constitutional Democratic Authoritarianism. He says that there is a difference between the two kinds of martial law, the European and South American type, and even American, where there is no constitutional authority to declare martial law, but the military commander declares a siege of war and takes over all powers of government: executive, judicial, and also the legislative. Then he issues a general order number one that henceforth the government, say military-run government. But I said during the civil war, when President Lincoln increased the budget for the military,
after Fort Sumter arrested some of the conspirators and took over the railroads, you know, all these things. He was brought to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court Chief Justice confronted him to release the prisoners and to stop issuing decrease, increasing appropriations, and so on. You remember the classic answer of President Lincoln? He says, "My primary duty as President is to maintain the union of the states of America. And I will not allow anyone to stop me from performing this primary duty." Then so many of the constitutionalists realized there was some kind of a difficulty in exercising powers of martial law that are legal, because Lincoln had said,
"I do this in accordance with the existing law," but he could not point to a constitutional provision. Now the constitutionalists molded and wrote what is now known as the Commander-in-Chief Provision. How does it read? More or less it reads, the President shall be the Commander-in-Chief, the armed forces of the nation, which he may call up to prevent or suppress any invasion, insurrection, rebellion, or imminent danger thereof. In case of invasion insurrection rebellion, hold on. No, no, no. Hold on, because this is the provision that also rises it. "In case of invasion insurrection rebellion, the public safety requires, and this is upon the judgment of the President, he may suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus throughout the land or any part thereof..."
And he then, it goes on to say, "...or proclaim martial law in any part of the country or throughout the country." Now, this was included in the fundamental laws that were drafted, prepared, passed by Congress, for the Philippines, and civil government was established. The Philippine Bill of 1902, which was our fundamental law, the Philippine Jones Law of 1916, which again became our fundamental law, which created the Senate, after the Bill of 1907 had created the House, so that it became a bicameral legislature, just like yours, and in the 1935 Commonwealth Constitution, in accordance with the Tydings-McDuffie Law, which created the Philippines into a Commonwealth for 10 years, for 1936, and after 10 years for independence to be declared. So, that was what we were following. I did not proclaim martial law a la Europe, or following the models South American, South and Central America,
but in accordance with your American constitutionalists, who favored what is known as constitutional authoritarianism. When the Chief Justice of our Supreme Court asked me, I said, "This is the form that I'm going to follow. I only strengthened the powers of the executive by asking the military to enforce my orders. I am not taking over the judiciary, I'm not taking over the legislature." And I said, "If this matter comes to court, I will appear before the Supreme Court," which I did. Give us your opinion, your evaluation of Ninoy Aquino? What did you think of him? Well, I think it was a cunning man, but in a shallow way. He wanted to...
Would you come back and just mention his name? You did. Yeah. He is also an opportunist, like any good politician. At one time, he claimed to have trained with the CIA, and at one time, he claimed to have helped the CIA in the Indonesian problem, but he helped organize the Communist Party in the Philippine. So, he was amoral, or shall we say, he was a damn good politician. He was present when they organized – when Jose Mario Sison – organized the Second Communist Party. The media has the habit of saying that communism and the insurgency started in 1968 in Hacienda Luisita.
They have forgotten that insurgency and the Communist Party started before the Second World War and that there was a Hukbalahap movement, H&B movement under Taruc and Lava, there was a... The ceasefire that Madame Aquino is so proud about, and she claims, that it is the first one, this is untrue. Every president had a ceasefire, every president had this amnesty. You start with Osmeña. He had a ceasefire, he had an amnesty. Go on to Roxas, the first commonwealth president, same thing. Amnesty, ceasefire. Then who was the next, after Roxas, Quirino, same thing, after Quirino, Magsaysay? Mr. President, we can't go through all these presidents.
No, no, no. All of this. They had a ceasefire. And I had– Well, you asked me what I thought of Aquino, in short. I felt that he was a very dangerous politician, and we should deal with him at arm's length. He was always so full of ideas. Imagine saying in an interview, "The communists also fear me because they know that I am one of their principal enemies. Because if they continue with their operations, I would go after them, more than even Marcos." And then he said, "And even my associates, my friends, my allies are afraid of me because they know that if they commit any error against my wishes, I would line them up and shoot them." Things like this. And he meant them.
Why did you decide to let him go to the United States for medical purposes? This was nothing but humanitarian. It was humanitarian because he had begged that he be permitted to have a real honest-to-goodness operation, and that he did not trust the doctors in the Philippines. Although the doctors had been operating for several years, anyway, he sent a special appeal to me. As a humanitarian, I asked him to get permission from the Supreme Court who had custody over him because there was an appeal at a certain point [to] his court martial. We paid personally for his medical fees.
But to me, that was a good deed for the day. I may have been pictured as a tyrant and murderer, I never murdered anybody. We executed only one man during my entire career as president, and he was Lim Seng, the heroine manufacturer who bragged that he had destroyed 10,000 of our youths. The people were demanding. They wanted to lynch him, but the military protected him properly. He was brought before a trial, convicted, and he was executed by musketry. That's the only one who was executed during my time. So the term murderer cannot apply to me, but it could apply to him.
This is how I preposition our respective characters, because that's what you are after. When you learned that Aquino was planning to return, you had told me in a previous conversation we had. That you telephoned him in Boston– No, no, no. He telephoned me. A long time before that six months, I think, or even one year, and [he] asked whether he could not come and help our government bring about a resolution of the crisis we were facing. I said, "by all means, but you very well know under what circumstances you were arrested.
You were arrested because you were in the top listing of those who are considered most dangerous to Philippine society. And I think you ought to know this." And he said, "I do. I know it. But just the same. We have been always talking to each other. I know you have been talking to Tañada, you talk to other leaders, you have received the surrender of the old Communist Party under Luis Taruc and the two Lavas and under Macapagal, who was received by Moscow with honors when he visited Moscow, and he said you gave them a chance to explain themselves, and that's why you agreed on the terms under which they would surrender and they surrender.
Why not me?" So I said, "You come at the right moment, sure, and we will talk about it. But I cannot talk to you on this telephone about matters that are such importance, and I have to consult," I said, "the other leaders, the people in the military, Supreme Court, because your case is still pending in the Supreme Court and the men in intelligence." So that is it. He called me up. I did not call him up. I called up, however, who was it? My wife, who was visiting Boston for her eye, to try and get in touch with him at the time when we heard the report of a double agent, that some of the communists had been planning to assassinate him when he arrived.
If my intention was to eliminate him, all I would have done, all I could have done was bring him in, put him to prison, and let him probably go through the final stages of his trial. [clicking sounds] A death sentence was hanging over him. Of course, frankly, I had no intention of executing him. There was no... Sorry, this thing interfered with what you said. Could you come back and say, I had no intention of... I had no intention. I had no intention of executing him. At the most probably, he would have to be reprieved to a life sentence and somehow he knew it. Because he told me, "I know you won't execute me.
So, why not use my talents?" Could you describe what you were doing on that day that Aquino was assassinated? I was in bed, I was sick. I was in bed, I was sick. I was told by someone that Ninoy had been assassinated in the Manila International Airport, and that was it, and I called up the officers who were supposed to be in charge of the MIA security and I said, "What happened, ?yeah?? Did you allow any interloper? Because I understand Galman was not a member of the... Well, you should expect it every hour.
It's a good thing they don't blast you from 100 yards. [laughter] Because they usually... No, they may be protecting us. [laughter] They may be protecting you or surveilling you. [Marcos laughs] But it's probably both. Sorry, could you go back and say, you made the phone call to the airport? I don't think it was the airport. The headquarters of the AVSECOM, the Aviation Security Command, and I asked this. The only answer was that the killer had been also killed. That's the only information that they could give me at the time. What do you think happened? According to the witnesses who are believable,
and they have only one witness who claims that she saw this whole assassination when she has another statement that she does not know anything. In fact, two statements that she never saw the thing. But then when she appeared in trial, she claimed to have seen the shot from behind but he was higher than Aquino. And therefore the doctors said if that shot had been made from behind at a higher level, Aquino would still be alive, and things like that, and that this small woman was lying down on the plane's floor when it happened. So how could [she] see anything? Things like that. But now I have also read the evidence. Even Ambassador Bosworth looked at the evidence before the decision was made, Of why and of what authority I do not know.
But he called for evidence in the possession of witnesses and I thought this was a little improper. Could we go to the events, just a couple more questions. [Could] we go to the events of February when the army, part of the army had mutinied. Oh, when was this? February 1986. Part of the army had mutilated and you were on television with General Ver, and he was urging you to, as I recall, to use force, and you were objecting to using force. Why didn't you use force at that stage? Because I had not talked to Minister Ponse Enrile and General Ramos and I wanted to talk to them before we adopted any more forceful methods. But let me clarify you on the sequence of events.
By the time they hold themselves in the defense building, the coup d'état was called off. It was called off by Colonel Honasan, who was the leader of the gang of officers who were supposed to attack Malacañang. Now, he had already told General Ver, that he wanted to talk to General Ver, that there was no such thing anymore as a coup d'état. I believe that they called it off when they realized that we had two officers in our custody who were confessed. These two officers had told everything. S we pulled out the troops they were going to use
who had been ordered from a distant training position in Tanay to afford Bonifacio. Two battalions were sent out of the greater Manila area. They realized that they had no men. Then we called in the reserves and around the palace were two thousand men, including demolition, tank, armor, and artillery. [child hollering] When they saw all of this, they wanted to negotiate. I said by all means, but they sent instead Ileto, the Secretary Minister of Defense right now, who was the highest ranking ?resource? Philippine Army Commander,
because I removed him. [plane/helicopter noises] [Interviewer asked for window to be closed] Every detail of this, but could you sort of abbreviate a little bit this story of why you didn't counterattack? Because, first of all, I was made to understand by General Ver that Gringo or Colonel Honasan was the head of the group under Minister, Juan Ponce Enrile who was to stage the coup d'état, had already called him and said, "Look, there is no such thing as a coup d'état." But we had already been attacked by the helicopter. And so I wanted my children and my grandchildren
out of this palace. And we would then stay and defend it. At the same time, I wanted to talk to Minister Ponce Enrile. There is a book written about this period by a certain, what's his name? Anyway, written apparently for Minister Juan Ponce Enrile because it speaks of me calling up Ponce Enrile and asking him to help me escape and ask the Americans to help me escape, and that is false. I called up Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and said, "Let's stop this fooling around. This is stupid business." I said, "I can bless you out of there any time. But I want you to stop any bloodshed because it will lead to further bloodshed
and the civilians will suffer." And he hammed and he howd. And I said, "You give me General Ramos." As usual, he was very respectful. I said, "Forget about our relationship because he started calling me 'manong', which means elder brother." I said, "You stop this foolishness. You're a West Point graduate. You are a military professional. And whatever happens, whether you kill me or not, it will be on your name. And you will suffer defamation in years to come." So he said, "Let me consult all the others," and that is why we waited, and again, they deceived us by holding on for, I think, 24 or 48 hours. By that time, the Marines were supposed to blast them,
were being pulled out to a better position because they were being surrounded by some of the men of Colonel Honasan, also Marines and they started fraternizing with each other. I realized that these were not the troops ?to? bombard the Defense Ministry, and I wanted to replace them. So we sent 11 tanks to replace them. Now, the matter is confused at that point. I don't know why they did not shoot smoke artillery. I don't know why they did not bombard the helicopters and destroy them. I still have to find out.
I think the MetroCom Chief General Olivas who was ordered to oversee the whole thing, disobeyed orders. And the reason for this was he probably had already been committed to Minister Ponce Enrile. [children's laughter] I can only confer my answer that they started to, but apparently... [Marcos is asked to re-explain more clearly] The Americans started to and they pushed it all the way to the time that I was pushed out of the Philippines. The way I can only confirm it is that Ambassador Bosworth
sent me the threat that we would be attacked by the American Marines. And then a trusted staff member of a certain senator called up my son-in-law, Tomás Manotoc, and told him, "You better convince your father-in-law to get out of there because it's not only the Marines that they will send against you. It's the gun boats," and so I started taking position so that we would not, in any way, meet with the Marines but have the civilians between us. But then they brought me to Clark Air Force Base instead of the presidential yacht or the U.S. Embassy. There they disarmed us and they threatened us with being killed [children's laughter] by our own troops and also by [the] U.S.
It's very high-pitch. No, I mean it's fine to get children...reading a book on Cory. No, no, no, it appeared in the paper. He was coded. But [inaudible]... You did tell us about that before. Let me just go on for a moment now. What? You were asking what the Americans did and do you think that, do I think that they helped? My answer is yes, because this following was fact. They threatened [inaudible] with the Marines and then a certain aid of a senator called up my son-in-law, saying not only the Marines, but even the gun boats. And then...
Oh, I might as well mention his name, General Allen, or just [inaudible], you would know it. Anyway, he came and said, "I represent the President of the United States." I said, "You know, usually you have written credentials to represent the president and otherwise, it is the ambassador who is the highest representative." ,But anyway, he insisted and things like that. and they deceived us, they brought us to Clark Air Force base, and then they threatened us with death, et cetera from other parties, not by them, that they would not be able to protect us and that their orders anyway were not to bring us to Laoag, but to Guam and that was it. That confirms the participation of the Americans. What– How do you see your role now? What role... What do you mean? I'm in exile here. I want to go back. I'm sorry, can you start again? Yes.
I can go back and help my people recover from this tyranny. In the most peaceful way possible. I maintain that if no one can stop the communists, as well as the radicals, even in my own party, or in her own party, because she's having trouble with the people that ?she? trained. In Hacienda Luisita she trained 8,000 yellow army members and we have the statement of two officers who participated in the training and got out and they were [inaudible] by the fact that they were training people who were going to fight their comrades and at the same time, they gave them guns, they are bringing in guns. You talk about the Russians bringing in guns. That's nothing compared to what is coming in through the customs in Manila International Airport, almost every day, guns.
And they are being given to her yellow army. I beg of her to stop all of this. That is why I have always said that Madame Aquino should be shocked into understanding what she is doing with the country and with the people and that she may antagonize them that really those attempts to assassinate her, as was apparent in that bomb, placed in the grandstand in the Philippine Military Academy, will be repeated and repeated. I do not want to be a party to a bloody intermission. Which at this point is irretrievably coming into fruition. Irretrievable
because she is antagonizing the Moro National Liberation Front. They say war in 45 days if you don't give us autonomy. Then [she] antagonizes the communists when they say no [inaudible] the Home Defense Forces can continue after [she] had said, we will abolish them. And then [she] tells the military. The only solution is the use of the military arm. Not economic or social reform. No, this means that you have given the people a final answer to their hopes for social justice. And that is, "No. You don't get it. We will kill all of you who attack the administration." Now that's not... I think that's not the way to mind the Filipino people at this very sensitive and critical point. I would rather see her succeed than see the communists take over the Philippines and I mean that.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently? What would I do differently? Probably I would ask the united opposition to quit talking about an election. But first, let us finish the two twin problems. Economic crisis and people [that] are going hungry. Do you know that in one year under her leadership, one million, five hundred thousand people lost their jobs? Do you know that four hundred, seven hundred businesses have closed? And do you know that the amount of money that I left there cannot be accounted for? Now, this is not the way to run a government. Everybody has to account for it. I want to make an accounting to the people of these allegations that they stole money. That is not true.
The General Accounting Office of the United States made a study on the commission or the instructions of Senator Edward Kennedy. And on May 2 of '86, the general accounting office made a report that all these charges against Marcos, Miss Marcos, of stealing money, especially American aid, including MAP, military assistance pack of aid, and the FMS, forward military sales borrowed money, as well as the economic support fund, which is a part of the compensatory package for the use of military facilities. And AID itself, proper. These were all studied, including the special funds that were given and I presume that they talk about public law 408 on the sale of American goods to the Philippines, and ?also? sold for pesos, pesos kept there, and used for the improvement of the Philippine economy. Now, there was a study made, and I will hand you a copy of this, which was finalized on May 2nd of 1986
and it says, definitely, all these charges cannot be substantiated. We have checked the prices, and they are reasonable. And we have checked the projects, and they are there. And so, I say, with this, what do they have against me on alleged stealing? They point to my income tax return, and some of those income tax returns are questionable in authenticity. I am not saying that they are frauds, but look, I know what my income was when I was a lawyer. Where you should have found [in] the income tax return. I know how much I earn. I know what properties were bought before I became president. Where do they sequester even my bachelor home? Where do they sequester even my father's home in Batac,
and my grandfather's home in Batac, and my grandmother's home in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte? Why? Why all of this? Making believe that they are playing a noble role in ferreting out crime committed by President Marcos. I challenge them that we now make a public accounting of all our properties. And that she explained to us, where did she get the money to spend in the election of '86 and in the plebiscite of this year? When they talk about frozen bank accounts in Switzerland, what are they referring to? They are referring to accounts in some banks, many of which I have no information. Some people say that they created trusts.
I looked at the trust [of] ?Jose Campos? I looked at this listing of the trust that they created in the ?Philippines? there is nothing whatsoever to do with the Geneva deposits. They present some figures and also some signatures. But they are merely copies. How do you expect us then to get a handwriting expert? In the first place we have not reached a stage. But I question many of these documents and I ask, who was the one who was authorized to deposit all of this in the name of those trusts? And what are those trusts? Assuming that I have a signature or two, assuming that there was a deposit here and there, I would like to know the exact amount. I would like to know who deposited. Was it me? Because I never went to Switzerland.
I may have met with some of these people from Switzerland who came to the Philippines. But you don't deposit money with traveling salesmen. No. You send somebody there. Why can't they prove this? And then the amount. One says 200 million. The last sequestration ordered by Salonga was 223 million. But another one says, no, no. Manglapus says, 8 billion to 30 billion. And we ask him, what is your evidence? Well, no, that's the story going around. So they are hitting me with gossip. Bernstein on those four buildings. No, five, including the Long Island retreat of that architect. What's the name of this building?
Landemer. Yes. And they said that all of these were both... No, no, no. There was a charge by somebody. I won't mention who. But I think the Philippine government has something to do with it to the effect that we bought these properties. Now what happens? Tony Floirendo comes out with a settlement with the Philippine government, saying that he owns Landemer Estate and he swore to it and yet everybody, including media, fascinated all the readers' statement that we owned that building. That we were engaged in high living. And then they said, we owned the four buildings. The only buildings that we accepted were owned by us was this small house of Bongbong, my son, Ferdinand Marcos III in Warton,
Cherry Hill, and this house of Imee in Princeton. And that day, without notice to us, they took over. Now they're taking over also this Makiki property, without any order from anyone. And the consul general comes in here, acting like a viceroy of the King of Spain, and says, "we're taking over this building." At whose order? I don't know. At all. They ordered the Philippine government. And what jurisdiction do you have over the property in the United States? They have not answered us that, they barged into the women's rooms. They didn't even have the decency to notify everybody that they were going in. So all these properties that they claim belonged to us are not ours.
Bernstein, when he testified, said, "It was my impression that it is theirs." Why do you say it's your impression and belief? Because that is the story going around. And so it is hearsay, double hearsay and at the same time, he was asked, "Where did the money come from to buy this building?" "Borrowed money." "Who borrowed it? Was it the Marcoses?" "No." "Did you sign any contract with the Marcoses?" "No." "Did you sign, did you talk with Marcos about property?" "No." "Did you talk to the First Lady?" "Yes and she said that she was interested, but she never told me what, Why. We always thought that she owned the property." And then he asked us, point blank, "What evidence do you have of this?" And ?I? said, "No, that was her belief." And so now, the banks have foreclosed and they have found out who owns the property. It's not ours.
And yet the media, both spoken and written, have been repeating this libel, and even in the customs. Under what authority they got my documents, I cannot say, up to now. But that's all right. We have a counter claim for ten million, which has been given due, of course. Just let me go back. One final question. If you could just give me a... I asked you a question before. If you could just sum it up in a very short answer. What would you do differently, if you could? I should have had better public relations man. We had no public relations man. The ambassador here was insisting that we couldn't afford it and when we did get the public relations man, it was too late. But seriously speaking,
now, I think that we were so busy accomplishing so many projects like establishing the moral basis for the society, trying to get the schools to upgrade the spiritual training, and get them to get the people our pupils to learn what can they be proud about of their forebears? What can they say? Do we have any culture at all before the Americans and Spaniards arrived? Because some of our own historians had swallowed the idea that we had no culture and that is why I wrote a history of the Philippines, the book known as Tadhana. This was to establish our roots, and then we had the cultural center where we showed our songs and dancing, songs and dances that were merely sung and danced
by the servants, by the help and the big houses, but now everybody's proud of them. And we have the folk art theater. We have all kinds of choruses all over the Philippines. You hear them sing the old songs including the old patriotic ones during the fighting in 1896, and even during the fighting against the British in 1861. All of these are the things that we were working on and we also created a credit system for the tenant. We established the only viable land reform system in Southeast Asia except Taiwan.
And of course, Japan, but their land reform system was different. Anyway, MacArthur insisted that we had no land reform because many of you fellows in the media and even these thousand people, and the rural credit system, where the tenants could borrow without collateral, provided that the money was supervised by credit supervisors. What's that mean? You were doing all these things. What do you think you failed to do? Publicize them and get everybody to understand and convince the foreign correspondents that their conspiracy to blacken the reputation of Marcus was going to fail. We should have attended to the foreign correspondents and the foreign delegations more.
But I was at the point where I was forced into such things like cutting the military appropriations by 25– and cutting everything by 25 percent, and so we cut on public relations also, and we therefore failed in public relations. We achieved our goals and established a new society of social justice and achievement. Created a people that was no longer indolent and reactivated the spirit of patriotism. But we did not convince the American and the American press that we had succeeded in doing so. It is going to be my purpose in life to see to it that this is part of history. So just to follow up on that, you thought it was really important the American press then and the public opinion United States then was decisive,
you think, in all of this? For instance, the Senate started to say that I was engaged in fraud, I had committed fraud and therefore they won't recognize it. What is the evidence that they presented? There is no evidence so far up to now proving such fraud. On the contrary, I will give you the report of the Chief of Staff, General Ramos, their own man, about the elections of '86 to show that it was the most peaceful and the most free election ever held in the Philippines and that the anomalies were committed by the other side, by Cory's people, and we have affidavits to show it. Now, we also have the other reports and this is going to show to you that this is a conspiracy which now may have boomeranged against the American government because if you send your young men there to fight for the bases then you will invite the Vietnamese.
You will invite the Russians. You will invite the Chinese. You may invite even South East Asian countries like Indonesia to be fighting. You will have a Vietnam-type war. Now, this should not be so because the Filipinos are ready to fight for their freedom and at the same time, many of the Americans, of course, are asking the primary question, are we going to be incinerated by nuclear war? You are all against, we are all against, but the Philippines may just trigger a nuclear war. How? Because you will be unable to project your strengths and the Navy and the Air Force through those strategic Malacca Straits, Indian Ocean, South China Sea, Ormos Strait, Diego Garcia, you may have also with the other crisis, a middle east war,
and then a European war, and you have the NATO commander saying, in case of a war, we may be compelled in due superiority of the Russian conventional weapon against the United States, we may be compelled to use nuclear arm. Then you have it. We should avoid this as much as possible. Thank you, Mr. President.
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In Our Image: The United States and the Philippines
Raw Footage
Interview With Ferdinand Marcos
Producing Organization
Pearson-Glaser Productions
Contributing Organization
Pearson-Glaser Productions (Kittery Point, Maine)
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Raw Footage Description
Ferdinand Marcos is a former president of the Philippines largely known for placing the country under martial law under the banner of constitutional authoritarianism. Marcos takes this interview as an opportunity to denounce the accusations of dictatorship and corruption that many Filipinos hold against him. He argues that while his term as president empowered the Philippines to acquire a sense of national history, identity, and democracy, his ultimate downfall was in his inability to show the United States that such accomplishments occurred. This failure contributed to his removal from office, which he claims was a collaborative effort on the part of the Philippine and United States governments. Marcos also critiques Corazon Aquino, the president following him, explaining that her term has done more to suppress Philippine democracy and social justice despite her supporters' belief that her presidency would promote both things.
Created Date
Asset type
Raw Footage
Politics and Government
Ferdinand Marcos; Authoritarianism; Cory Aquino
Media type
Moving Image
Interviewee: Marcos, Ferdinand
Interviewer: Karnow, Stanley
Producing Organization: Pearson-Glaser Productions
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Pearson-Glaser Productions
Identifier: cpb-aacip-27decb92ccb (Filename)
Format: Betamax
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Chicago: “In Our Image: The United States and the Philippines; Interview With Ferdinand Marcos,” 1987-03-26, Pearson-Glaser Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 20, 2024,
MLA: “In Our Image: The United States and the Philippines; Interview With Ferdinand Marcos.” 1987-03-26. Pearson-Glaser Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 20, 2024. <>.
APA: In Our Image: The United States and the Philippines; Interview With Ferdinand Marcos. Boston, MA: Pearson-Glaser Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from