MANILA - Why did First Lady Imelda Marcos allow Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jnr to leave the country when the latter was a known rival of President Ferdinand Marcos?
According to sisters Ballsy and Pinky Aquino, their father, who was in prison for speaking out against the dictator, suffered a heart attack and had to be brought to the Philippine Heart Center. This was after Aquino was placed in prison for seven years due to charges of murder, subversion and illegal possession of firearms by the Marcos regime.
Speaking to ANC's Talkback with Tina Palma, Pinky Aquino said Mrs. Marcos visited Aquino at the Philippine Heart Center on May 8, 1980 to ask how he was doing.
During her visit, Aquino praised the First Lady for ordering the construction of the Heart Center.
"I think Mrs. Marcos was in a very good mood, because for the first time, my Dad had praised her project. Remember the Heart Center was her project and my Dad had been very critical of her other projects because he felt that it was a lot of money being put on these things whereas he thought that the priority should've been the poor or projects for the poor. And for the first time, you know, he was really praising her to high heavens," she said.
"The doctors at Fort Bonifacio were saying, they kinda...you know, we don't want to have anything to do with this guy, because if he dies, we don't want it in our hands. So they were able to convince the authorities to just send him to the Heart Center. And it was there that he had the tests, and then he was told that he needed, they weren't sure if he needed a triple bypass, but he needed something done."
"And he said, 'So where should I have it done?' And they said, 'Well, we could do it here.' And he says, 'No, I'm not gonna risk that. If you're gonna do it here, I'll just take my chances. I'd really like to have it done in the US. And then he says: 'I have to thank the First Lady who I have criticized, because if not for her, I might have died. You know, without this Heart Center and blah blah blah.'"
"And so she came the next day to say: "Oh, Ninoy, I'm so sorry to see you looking like this. But if you wanna go to the US, you know we can send you there now. This afternoon, there's a flight.'"
Pinky said her father was asked to write a letter to say that he wanted to go to the US with his wife and three of his children.
Ballsy said her father wrote that he would leave with only three of his five children. "Because he was asked to leave...like hostages," she said.
However, two of the Aquino siblings were already abroad including Viel, who was staying with a grandmother, and Pinky, who was working in Hong Kong. This meant that the entire Aquino family would be reunited if the three other Aquino siblings - Ballsy, Noynoy and Kris - would leave the country.
Pinky said she received a call from relatives, telling her not to return to the Philippines. She later joined the family in Dallas where the entire family was reunited.
Senator Aquino stayed in the US for three years before finally deciding to come home on August 1983.
Ballsy said her mother tried to convince Aquino to put off the trip.
"I could feel the tension and the stress of my Mom, more than any of us. I guess, being the wife, because they had discussed this for a long time, and she really I think tried to stop him, or at least delay his coming home. And I remember Dad telling her that: 'You know, we've talked about this for a long time, and we already decided.' I guess hindi mapakali ang Dad eh. Maski na you were there living in freedom, there's nothing like being in your country. Plus he was really fighting for the return of democracy and many times...oh, he was forever on the phone with Pinoys there, in the West Coast, in New York, in the Philippines, and I guess he really felt that three years was more than enough. Lumakas na uli siya, pwede na ulit..."
She also admitted that Ferdinand Marcos's deteriorating health had something to do with her dad's decision to come home.
"I think it had a lot to do because he said: 'You know, while (Marcos) is still alive and while he's still- while I can still talk to him, maybe I should go and try to convince him, you know, to return our freedoms and all these.' But, um, well, as destiny would have it, I guess he really had to come home."
ANC, August 25, 2014