Marcos Homecoming Prompts Emotion, Prudent Support
THE spectacle of the former first lady, Imelda Marcos, making a triumphant homecoming has left many Filipinos wondering if the 1992 presidential elections will degenerate into feudal politics."I provided support for the Imelda Marcos homecoming - both cash and equipment," said a businessman, "because I'm hedging my bet. If I hadn't been friends with families on both sides before the 1986 revolution, I would have been out of business." Mrs. Marcos, self-proclaimed champion of the poor, is staying in a hotel suite at $2,000 per night, a cost equal to what an average Filipino earns in three years. Marcos booked the entire 11th floor for her entourage; she says friends and supporters are footing the bill. But the 10,000 supporters who lined the streets to welcome her home Nov. 4 offered little more than emotional support. Most wore plastic thongs; some were barefoot. President Corazon Aquino ignored the homecoming, but her executive secretary, Franklin Drilon, told reporters, "The return of Imelda Marcos should be seen in its proper perspective. She has come home to face charges." He said the travel ban imposed six years ago for security reasons was lifted to allow members of the Marcos family to come back to face tax-evasion and fraud charges. Marcos posted a $2,700 bail Nov. 5, and was fingerprinted. She is expected to be arraigned later in November. Marcos's return has focused attention on the May 1992 Philippine presidential elections. Mrs. Aquino, who came to power in 1986 following a bloodless revolution that ousted Marcos, has said she will not seek reelection. Aquino may have had other reasons to allow Marcos's return. "Corazon Aquino has agreed to allow Imelda Marcos to return at this time to confuse the opposition - and it's working," said a source close to Aquino who asked not to be identified. Two of the leading contenders in the opposition Nacionalista Party, Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco and Salvador Laurel, were at the airport to meet Marcos. Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, the third contender, welcomed Marcos on television. Senator Enrile, the former Marcos defense minister who led the coup against him, broke with Aquino shortly after she came to power. Mr. Cojuangco, the estranged first cousin of Aquino, was a close friend of Marcos and was airlifted out of the Philippines with him during the 1986 uprising. Mr. Laurel, who serves as Aquino's vice president, has been a critic of her policies and met with the Marcoses in the United States several times during their exile. All the opposition candidates are courting Marcos. If she decides to run, few candidates will want to split the opposition vote by running against her; instead they seek her endorsement. "She's going to bring back money and throw it at a candidate," says Alan Ortiz, an Aquino aide. "One thing [is] for sure, everyone who goes to see her will have their palm outstretched." On arrival Marcos denied political aspirations. "[I want] to help the poor, to mother them, and mothering is not political. It is natural for a woman. I don't want to involve myself in parties or politics," said Marcos at an orchestrated news conference where her supporters were allowed to cheer her comments and boo when difficult questions were asked. At one point a man rushed forward to thank her for helping him 10 years ago and began to sing a folk song. Background music came over the sound system and Marcos tearfully joined him in song. While Marcos is thought to support Laurel, her son, Ferdinand Jr., has been staying with Cojuangco, who is his godfather. And newspapers have run banner headlines about a so-called rift between mother and son.