There is one particular circumstance requiring consideration of the indictment of Ferdinand E. Marcos for racketeering in New York City under the U.S. Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). It is that RICO may have contributed to his eventual demise. Whether there are unimpeachable natural causes and/or a mixture of some artificial contrivance employed as intervention, there will always be lingering doubt.
As told last week, that RICO indictment and Ferdie’s attempt to avoid arraignment led to the medical examination conducted by Dr. Francis M. Weld. That Trippler Army Medical Center interlude not only revealed a definitive medical situationer, current as of that moment, but also a professional insight into the character, frame of mind, and predisposition of the patient.
There followed a series of hospitalizations, which were unnecessarily attended by suspectedly staged comedic effects. These antics, traced to Meldy’s stage management, only led to questions about the severity of the ailments complained of. I must admit that I succumbed to such doubts myself. I reflected them in my communications with Malacañang. These were openly reported in Manila media, then basking under the glow of very recently People Power re-installed press freedom. I was subjected to bashing by rowdy ‘loyalist’ quarters. I was accused of “practicing medicine without a license!” But I enjoyed it. It was fun!
The New York Federal Court’s decision on Marcos’s arraignment was effectively hung in suspense. Meldy, on the other hand, had her appearance all set. (We shall cover this in a future recollective story in this series.)
It appears that the attempt was more of a legal maneuver more than medical reality. I have not been able to ascertain who was the specific doctor whose letter was presented by Marcos’s lawyers to Judge Keenan, who acceded to postponing the arraignment, subject to verification by a court-assigned medical referee, hence D. Weld. His findings, however, enjoyed the concurrence of Ferdie’s attending physicians. These were Dr. Livingston M.F. Wong and Dr Calvin Y.H. Wong. It is not known, however, if Drs. Juanita G. Zagala, Claver Ramos and Abdias V. Aquino, all Filipinos, were personally interviewed by Dr. Weld, although their letters to the Marcos lawyers were documents presented for review.
Dr. Weld observed that “Mr. Marcos was alert, responsive and appropriate throughout this period. His memory was excellent. His medical history was entirely consistent with the extensive historical records available to me.”
Here is the last paragraph of Dr. Weld’s 3-page letter report:
“I conclude that Mr. Marcos has significant departures from normal in his kidneys, heart and neuromuscular systems, but these abnormalities would not be worsened by air travel or appearance in court. I am (as are his other physicians) unable to account for his escalating and widespread pain syndrome, but do not view this as a contraindication for travel or appearance in court.”
In other words, Ferdie was indeed sick. But not too sick to face the charges of racketeering!
Personally, what I thought was puzzling at first, but proved most significant in Dr. Weld’s examination, was his use of two words to encapsulate his encounter with Ferdie. Two words which may have been sufficient enough for Judge Keenan and the New York prosecutors to commission, yet, another medical referee, to further substantiate the doubts resulting from Dr. Weld’s visit. The words “Affective” and “Factitious” are not necessarily medical terms. My fascination arose simply because I did not know what they meant. Folks, if you yourselves do not know what they mean, you will shortly.
Describing the flow of his near three-hour examination, Dr. Weld wrote: “In response to my request to lift his feet from the floor while sitting, Mr. Marcos was unable to lift his left foot at all, and his right foot only two inches; yet later during the interview, he casually lifted his left leg and crossed it over his right knee, followed within an hour by an identical movement of the right leg over the left knee.”
Additionally, Ferdie cried out and grimaced in pain when the stethoscope was applied to his abdomen, even “with the lightest possible pressure,” wherever it was moved.
I suppose that the most popular way of gauging pain in a patient is through his self-reporting. Reliable, only if the patient is being seriously honest. Doctors do know that there is a correlation between the intensity of pain and one’s heart rate. Thus, doctors are trained to detect pain faking or plain malingering!
“During episodes of pain, I was unable to measure a heart rate exceeding 72/minute.” It is a medical fact that severe pain results in a high adrenaline level and a resulting high heart rate. “When Mr. Marcos complained of excruciatingly painful muscle spasms, I was unable to detect any involuntary contraction (spasm or cramping.)”
“Thus, I have little confidence in the validity of my findings concerning sensation (including pain) and muscle strength, and favor an affective or else factitious component in the pain syndrome.” Simply, Dr. Weld concluded that Marcos was being emotional and deceptive!
“Affective” is an adjective meaning influenced by emotions . “….. in psychology, affective disorders are conditions characterized by emotional problems or mood disturbances.” “Factitious,” on the other hand, means artificially created. Among its many synonyms are fake, spurious, feigned, fraudulent, etc. Would you not agree, how very Marcos! Right?
Now, go…let us use our new words in sentences to display our newly acquired erudition.
A little over ten weeks after that Trippler Army Medical Center interaction with Dr. Francis M. Weld, Ferdie was admitted to St. Francis Medical Center, again, but for the last time. It was January 15, 1989. “Tony Bundoc” was never to leave the hospital alive!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.