Once again, Ferdinand E. Marcos’ re-scheduled arraignment in New York City was halted as events in St. Francis Medical Center in Honolulu had called for. Inevitably, such events had taken command of the judicial event and directed its outcome. There was suspicious synchronization of happenings between the hospital and the courtroom.
Here are my recollections of the series of happenings between New York City and Honolulu on January 19, 1989. New York is five thousand miles away and five hours, in time zone difference during non-daylight savings time, ahead of Hawaii. I was able to track them. I monitored, recorded and pieced them together, for purposes of reporting to the Office of the President. Obviously, my report contained fruits of surveillance, as they were, and were written fresh, soon after factual occurrences and observations/conclusions therefrom. I consulted my notes for this correspondence.
It was extremely difficult for me not to conclude and believe that there was not a script being followed!
An appreciation by Judge John F. Keenan in his New York City courtroom of the expert testimonies of Drs. Elliot, Raskin and Kogan was supposed to be happening momentarily. These expert physicians were engaged to rebut Drs. Weld and Collins, as earlier pointed out, to prove once again the celebrated prospective indictee’s physical inability to be in court.
At 2:48 PM New York time (9:48 AM in Honolulu) at more or less the very moment when the testimonies of the hired medical experts were to be called for arguments, an interruption was called for. A note was handed over to the Judge.
The note announced that Marcos’ left lung had collapsed, “with additional cardiological problem” and that the lung had been re-inflated. The note was sourced from a call by Dr. Azucena Ignacio who was at St. Francis in Honolulu. Receiving the call in New York City was Dr. Claver Ramos.
Within fifteen minutes from the delivery of the note to Judge Keenan, another conference call. Drs. Ignacio and Dr. Calvin Wong at St. Francis with Dr.Claver Ramos and Marcos’ top lawyer, Richard Hibey in New York City, presumably still in the court premises. I was not privy to the subject matter of their teleconversation. Of course, I had my guess. Guess because I did not have access to eavesdropping technology!
Incidentally, I was to learn from my ‘medical referee’ that collapse of the lung can come from several causes: ruptured sacs, weak muscles or simply windpipe blockage. Collapse need not involve the entire lung either.
Here is how I analyzed this activity: After Dr. Ramos received the information from Dr. Ignacio (as he must have been in a nearby hotel, certainly not within the Federal Court premises), it had to be written down into a note. The note was then delivered to the courtroom. At its earliest, therefore, the foregoing sequence could only have been happening at the very moment (or perhaps just before) that Marcos was being transferred from his sickroom to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU.) Certainly, physically not after Judge Keenan received the note!
I had an eye-witness who saw, from just a few feet away, Marcos being wheeled out of his room, through the corridor, waiting for the elevator. The ICU was on a different floor. This was the precise moment of Marcos’ transfer to the ICU. Notably not on the very day of his re-admission to St. Francis which is January 15, four days earlier. But this was happening on the very day of the scheduled arraignment in New York City. My eye-witness determined the time to be between 9:30 and 9:40 AM, January 19, 1989. It was 2:30 – 2:40 PM in New York City.
“Elementary, my dear Watson,” would you not say? Or, in the least, would you not fall into temptation to say and think so?
I must reiterate that ‘following a script’ is not a strange non-medical assignment for Dr. Azucena Ignacio. We remember only too well that she was central to Meldy’s “last rites” for her “dying” husband during the second December hospitalization. Dr. Ignacio was the one who fetched Fr. MacFadden from a nearby parish to perform “Extreme Unction,” only to absentmindedly (?) say hours after that she did not know if the patient was in serious condition!
Back to the ICU scenario. Reasonably, the only opportunity for the lung to have ‘collapsed’ would have to be immediately prior to Marcos’ trip to the ICU! To my skeptical mind, the actual entry to the ICU was indeed an evidential necessity to bolster the purported veracity of the message concerning the collapsed lung, as beamed by Dr. Ignacio from Honolulu to an apparently waiting Dr. Claver Ramos in New York City, within walking distance from Judge Kennan’s chambers, considering the observed lapse in time.
The scenario as it unfurled, nay call it a stratagem, possessed a story structure that appears to be more than just mere coincidence, don’t you think so? Something noisome, no? To me, it cannot simply be dismissed as being unMarcosian! It is so very Marcos!
There is, however, a lingering puzzle for me to this day because it remains unanswered. Although there are those who can reasonably argue that it should no longer really matter after all our protagonist is dead and rotted. Nonetheless, to me, the Philippines’ Martial Law history must also document Marcosian wile, guile and lie! All of which were tools of his ascent and descent, to and from rapacious power. Let Imelda’s mercenary revisionists argue against these truths.
And that puzzle? While collapse of the left lung, on record, appeared to be the trigger of the final phases of the months-long deterioration of Marcos’ health, no cause was ever given publicly for that incident. Except, of course, from Imelda’s foolishly vain attempt at resurrecting ‘scarless’ war wounds and that “shrapnel-in-the-lung…defending America” canard, announced by her on television, January 20. Hilarious Imeldific comedy, though!
If that “non-metallic foreign object” stuck deep in Marcos’ throat, windpipe or trachea was the cause of the complicating collapse of the left lung, such collapse could only have occurred, logically, moments before the bronchoscopy procedure. Yet, this procedure was not administered on January 19, a Thursday, when the news about “collapsed lung” was delivered to Judge Keenan. The hospital’s spokesperson, Ms Noma Kop, had confirmed that the procedure was done three days after, January 22, a Sunday.
A ‘puzzlement,’ Yes?
My suspicions of orchestration and manipulation of Marcos’ medical condition being crafted to coincide with the scheduled judicial processes in New York’s Federal Court contain credibility. The objective was to evade and avoid the New York arraignment. And they succeeded.
These machinations, were really a distraction to the dawning reality, yet unknown to me at that point, of the deposed dictator’s irreversible deterioration of his medical condition. Nonetheless, even with the advent of his lung collapse and bronchoscopy, my studied skepticism still made me maintain my contention that yes, Marcos was sick and ailing, getting serious, yes….but he was not dying!
Within a few weeks, the death watch would begin!
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.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.