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URGENT Marcos Resigns, Flees; Aquino Says ’Long Agony is Over

February 25, 1986

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ A defeated Ferdinand E. Marcos resigned as president of the Phiippines today, slipping away in the Manila night and touching off an explosion of joyous celebration among his countrymen. Hours later, he flew on to Guam aboard a U.S. aircraft.

“Cory 3/8 Cory 3/8” Filipinos chanted in tribute to new President Corazon Aquino as they demonstrated by the thousands across the capital. A mob rampaged through Malacanang Palace, from which Marcos governed for 20 years.

“We are finally free,” Mrs. Aquino declared on television.” ”... The long agony is over.”

Marcos, who fled aboard American helicopters to the U.S. Air Force’s nearby Clark Air Base, was brought down by a combination of a “people’s power” uprising, military revolt and U.S. pressure.

First official word of his resignation came in Washington, where Secretary of State George Shultz said the toppled Philippine leader would be “welcome to come to the United States.” But there was no immediate confirmation of where Marcos would go into foreign exile.

Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, the Philippines’ new military chief, also announced the beleaguered Marcos’ departure, saying he, his family and about 20 other people were airlifted by helicopter to Clark Air Base, 50 miles northwest of here, and a second group of about 80 palace associates traveled by boat and automobile to the U.S. Embassy grounds in Manila.

The Marcoses spent the night at the Clark base, and then left for Guam aboard a U.S. aircraft at about 5 a.m. Wednesday, U.S. officials reported in Washington.

The swift developments ended four days of uncertainty and political drama in Manila and two decades of highly personal Marcos rule over this impoverished archipelago nation of 55.5 million people, an important U.S. ally in the Far East.

At least 16 people were reported slain in violence sparked by the revolt against Marcos.

The longtime president was given a final push Monday by the Reagan administration, which called for a peaceful transition to a new government because of what it said was widespread fraud in the Feb. 7 presidential election, in which the 68-year-old Marcos claimed victory over Mrs. Aquino, widow of an assassinated political rival.

Shultz said the United States had officially recognized the new Aquino government and anticipated no immediate problem in maintaining the two major U.S. military bases in the Philippines - Clark and Subic Bay Naval Base.

“We are prepared to confer with the new government ... to cooperate fully,” he said.

Earlier today, both Marcos and Mrs. Aquino, 53, were inaugurated as president of rival Philippine governments in separate ceremonies. But within hours, both camps reported that Marcos, at the presidential palace, was engaged in lengthy telephone negotiations over his departure.

American officials “had been negotiating like mad” with Marcos and the opposition to arrange the transition, U.S. congressional sources said. Sen. Paul Laxalt, R-Nev., said Marcos told him by transoceanic telephone early today he feared “the palace would be stormed.”

At about 9 p.m. (8 a.m. EST), four U.S. Air Force H-3 helicopters airlifted the Marcos family and associates from the palace grounds and flew them to Clark, where they landed about a half-hour later, Pentagon spokesman Robert Sims said in Washington.

Ramos did not say who was evacuated besides Marcos, his wife, Imedla, 57, son Ferdinand Jr., 27, daughters Imee Manotoc, 30, and Irene Araneta, 25, and three grandchildren. Sims said Gen. Fabian Ver, ousted chief of staff and Marcos confidant, was among those evacuated.

Sims said in Washington the U.S. military is prepared to fly Marcos to the United States if he so wishes.

Manila radio station DZRH later quoted a Marcos loyalist, Romulo Fontanilla, as saying, “Without our knowledge he (Marcos) left us. Even the soldiers are not here anymore.” The station said only a small protective force was left behind at the palace.

As word of Marcos’ departure flashed across this turbulent capital, jubilant throngs of Filipinos set bonfires outside the palace.

“You’re hearing the start of the rebirth of democracy 3/8” a radio announcer broadcast over the sounds of celebrating demonstrators.

Hundreds of unruly Filipinos broke into the abandoned palace and began looting the luxurious compound. Associated Press photographer Bullit Marquez said he saw one person lying dead in the downstairs lobby of the palace’s administration building.

The radio announcer made an appeal: “This is a very momentous event in the history of our country and we should not shed blood anymore.We have shed enough The palace is the people’s home... . Please do not wreck it.”

More than 10,000 people danced, cheered, applauded and chanted Mrs. Aquino’s nickname at the gate of the palace. The remaining few palace guards surrendered.

Long lines of cars and public transportation “jeepneys,” packed with cheering Filipinos, inched along Manila’s boulevards with horns blaring and flags waving.

“It’s liberation day 3/8 It’s liberation day 3/8” chanted one group. Bonfires blazed. Happy Filipinos waved signs proclaiming “People’s Power.”

Mrs. Aquino made her first public appearance on television at 2:45 a.m. Wednesday, smiling at the camera and speaking just 52 seconds.

Saying she had been advised by U.S. Ambassador Stephen W. Bosworth that Marcos was at Clark Air Base, she declared: “We are finally free, and we can be truly proud of the unprecedented way in which we achieved our freedom, with courage, with determination and most important, in peace.

“A new life starts for our country tomorrow, a life filled with hope and I believe a life that will be blessed with peace and progress.”

She urged people at Malacanang Palace to “please stay calm and observe sobriety for the sake of our country.”

Ramos, who led the military mutiny with Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, ordered his soldiers to prevent lynching or looting of property of Marcos associates.

Mrs. Aquino’s vice presidential running-mate, former Sen. Salvador H. Laurel, speaking on NBC’s “Today” show, said Enrile and Ramos had spoken to Marcos for almost two hours about his resignation.

In Washington, Shultz praised Marcos’ decision and said of the Philippine people, “They have resolved this issue non-violently and in a way that does them honor.”

The secretary of state said that “basically, this is not something the United States has done.” But he acknowledged that U.S. officials had “a great deal of interaction” with Marcos in recent days as he pondered his decision.

A U.S. congressional source, speaking in Washington on condition of anonymity, said first lady Imelda Marcos, politically ambitious in her own right, had been an obstacle - “Apparently she wanted to stay and hoped to succeed him eventually.”

Marcos had sounded stubborn in his inauguration ceremony, telling supporters gathered at the palace, “We will overcome these obstacles ... we will advance for the future.” The broadcast of the ceremony was cut short, apparently by rebel hands.

At her rival inauguration earlier today, Mrs. Aquino said her administration would be dedicated to “morality and decency in government, freedom and democracy.”

As the two rivals were inaugurated, fighting broke out at a Manila area police station and a television transmitting tower held by pro-Marcos forces. A police general said nine people were killed iun fighting at the police station, and pro-Aquino forces killed three pro-Marcos soldiers at the television tower.

Marcos took the oath of office for a new six-year term from the Supreme Court’s chief justice, Ramon Aquino.

Outside the palace, rival groups threw stones at each other. Marcos supporters shouted, “Capture the snakes 3/8 Capture the snakes 3/8 Martial law 3/8 Martial law 3/8” Marcos ruled under martial law regulations from 1972-1980.

Through most of today, Marcos remained in the palace with his family as loyal troops kept jeering pro-Aquino supporters at a distance. Earlier in the day, soldiers fired on rebel supporters near Malacanang, and hospital officials said eight people were hit by gunfire and five injured while trying to flee.

Mrs. Aquino was sworn in as head of the rebels’ provisional government at a country club ringed by troops who rallied to the insurgency declared Saturday by Enrile and Ramos, deputy armed forces commander. She took the oath from Claudio Teehankee, an associate Supreme Court justice.

“I and Salvador H. Laurel are taking power ... in the name of the Filipino people,” she told thousands of jubilant supporters.

Mrs. Aquino said Laurel would be her vice president and prime minister, Enrile her defense minister and Ramos, promoted to full general from lieutenant general, would become military chief of staff.

“As a first step to restore confidence in the government,” she said, “I will expect all appointed public officials to submit their resignations.”

Mrs. Aquino’s husband Benigno Aquino, was assassinated in 1983 as he stepped off a plane upon returning from three years of self-exile in the United States. Aquino, a former senator, had been Marcos’ most powerful opponent, and Mrs. Aquino emerged as his ppolitical successor.

Marcos’ New Society Movement party controls the 109-member National Assembly which on Feb. 15 declared him re-elected by a 1.5-million-vote margin. Mrs. Aquino’s supporters and growing numbers of military, business, religious and political leaders say the decision was based on rigged vote tallies.

Nine people were killed in the shootout in suburban Makati between police officers and a sergeant who led a group of eight to 10 men and claimed to support Mrs. Aquino. A spokesman for Mrs. Aquino denied any connnecton with the group.

In suburban Quezon City, pro-Aquino forces battled Marcos loyalists occupying a Channel 9 television transmitter tower and building near the government broadcast complex seized Monday by rebels.

The rebels shot and killed three army troopers sniping from the tower. Pro- Aquino soldiers later climbed up the 300-foot-high platform and brought the bodies to the ground.

Enrile and Ramos had arrived at the Club Filipino for Mrs. Aquino’s inauguration in their first departure since Sunday from rebel headquarters at Camp Crame, four miles east of Marcos’ palace.

Before leaving Camp Crame, Ramos told repporters, “Some 85 percent of the armed forces of the Philippines is solidly under our control.”

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