The words “affective” and “factitious” must have made such an impression on Judge Keenan that after Dr. Weld’s examination report, the postponed October 31 arraignment of Marcos was rescheduled to January 19, 1989. To repeat and rephrase Dr. Weld’s conclusions: there was no medical justification preventing the indictee, Ferdie, from travelling to New York City and face his day in court.
Then followed the two admissions to St. Francis Medical Center. December 9, 1988 and released on December 18; and again entering St Francis on December 29 and released on January 5, 1989.
While there may have been valid reasons for those hospitalizations, such validity was diminished and became suspect simply because the ailments and corresponding hospital stays also turned out to be orchestrated anticipatory events announced in advance to media both in Honolulu and in Manila. It had become suspicious to many observers, myself foremost, that Marcos may have decided to weaponize his medical condition to achieve some political objectives. Avoiding his New York trial principally and at the same time create some orchestrated clamor and pressure back in Manila that might allow his return. A gamble, quite presumably!
Under ordinary circumstances, a sick man entering the hospital is validation enough for the existence of some serious illness. However, when announcements of ailments are suspected to be orchestrated, such as even before the patient enters the hospital, reasonable doubt descends. Suspicion of contrived scenarios unavoidably arose. To my natural skepticism, such announcements were consistent in its intent which was to rally partisans in Manila who were primed for some political noise, hoping to soften President Cory Aquino’s “hard heart.”
The general tenor of my reports to Malacanang bore continuing doubts about the severity of the causes for hospitalization, at least up to these moments of late 1988 and early 1989. Indeed, I was ‘practicing medicine without a license.’ Guilty as boisterously accused by the Marcos Manila crowd. But, my consistent conclusion: “Yes, Ferdie is sick but not that sick!” And in hindsight, not yet that sick, anyway!
In fact, before these December hospitalizations but almost immediately after the Marcoses were informed of the New York indictments, some histrionics began to play. Enter wheelchair and neck brace!
Now, does that not sound familiar? Wheelchairs and neck braces have become all too popular props for Philippine political personages in trouble with the law. Instead of drawing public pathos, they yielded parody, to much laughter and ridicule!
Fresher examples are still much too familiar to us. They were provided by former Presidents, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and ‘Erap’ Estrada; and the impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona. Remember? Wouldn’t they have taken a cue from Ferdie?
One fine October morning, at the front door of their Makiki Heights villa, to greet the usual well-wishers and visitors, of which there was always a mostly Honolulu Ilocano crowd, Ferdie appeared in a wheel chair and a neck brace! As usual, this appearance was attended by preempted media.The neck brace was improperly positioned so that upon its only other appearance, it had been turned 180 degrees around to its supposed ‘orthopedic correctness.’ And in the instance of the wheelchair, and this info was shared with me by a reporter from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin who had forgotten his notepad inside the house and returned to retrieve it. He saw the deposed President walking about the living room unassisted. The wheel chair abandoned by the hall way. This was, of course, after all the visitors had departed!
Ferdie’s wheel chair and neckbrace had a very brief shelf life on the Makiki stage. Their use never explained, the props simply disappeared. These inanities and its vain utilization for publicity, were captured in photographs.
Ferdinand E. Marcos, the smart, sly and astute political tactician that he himself and his publicists have bandied and ballyhooed about seems to be “getting away” with it, so far. That is, putting off and evidently maneuvering for his arraignment to simply go away. Circumstances had deemed that it would not be so. Deposed and exiled, Marcos was no longer in the “driver’s seat.”
Without disregarding a genuine concern for the personal well-being of the indictee/patient’s fitness to appear before his court, Judge Keenan had re-set the arraignment for January 19, 1989, as already mentioned. I can only surmise that this was also out of judicial prudence, and perhaps out of courtesy and propriety, because the accused was a guest (in exile) of the US President, after all. The possibility of exaggeration on the part of the patient could not be dismissed so outrightly.
Judge Keenan assigned another doctor to perform consultations for the judicial “purpose of determining if there are neurological diseases or conditions, which would contraindicate prolonged travel between Honolulu and New York City.” This appointment was set for January 14, five days before the rescheduled arraignment. The examination was to be performed at the Marcos residence, 2338 Makiki Heights Drive, a mountain-side mansion overlooking downtown Honolulu and farther beyond, the Pacific Ocean. A doctor’s home visit, and that is because, Ferdie was out of the hospital again!
A Dr. Robert C. Collins, professor and chair of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical School’s Department of Neurology was tasked to perform this assignment.
Before we end today’s episode, let us take pause a bit while I invite you to mull with me what I suspect were artificial interventions that Ferdie and Meldy may have been conjuring to avoid that summons to appear in New York City for the criminal arraignment.
This junction of my story telling is not intended as a spoiler alert for what my future recollections will relate. Instead, I would like to lay down the predicate for a very relevant doubt, what I personally hold to be the proximate cause and forming contributory causes of Ferdie’s demise, when it finally occurred. Insofar as customary eating habit, meaning choice of food is concerned, I believe this is an accepted given. I have in mind the avowed Ilocano spartan diet to which Marcos is familiar with, accustomed to and is in fact known for. No strange foreign fancy fare, markedly favoring rice, ‘tinola,’ ‘pospas’ and ‘pinakbet,’ as numerous accounts of Ferdie’s gustatory choices have previously been publicized.
Here, too, is another incidental bit of information but of relevance to the web of circumstances we are weaving. There was loose talk, as gathered from attending hospital staff that “the patient was disregarding prescribed medicine ….. only he knew that he had no need for it.”
That said and set, let us put it aside, for now.
I will always hold fast to my conclusion that the earlier demise and the chronicled dying process of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos was triggered by the criminal indictment. That RICO case! And as a consequence, given the Mephistophelian proclivity of the patient, I raise the question. Did Ferdie indulge in self-induced medical brinkmanship? Was his death, when it happened, the fatal backfire of that brinkmanship?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tomas 'Buddy' Gomez III began his professional media career in ABS-CBN's (previously Chronicle Broadcasting Network) DZQL-Radio Reloj in 1957, after which he spent 25 years with the Ayala Group.
In 1986, the then Pres. Cory Aquino appointed him Consul General to Hawaii and later served as her Press Secretary.
During the Ramos administration, he was chairman and president of state-owned IBC-13 Network.
After government service, he became an ‘OFW’ in the U.S., working as front-desk clerk and then assistant general manager of a hotel. He also worked as a furniture and antique restoration specialist.
He is now retired and lives in San Antonio, Texas.
His e-mail is: [email protected]
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.