Fact vs Fiction: Did Cory Aquino make order for Marcos family to leave Philippines?

July 19, 2022 - 3:36 PM
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Cory Aquino swearing as president
Corazon Aquino swears in as President of the Philippines at Club Filipino, San Juan on February 25, 1986. (Photo from Malacañang Palace archives, CC0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Did former president Cory Aquino really order the Marcos family to be thrown out of the Philippines?

A written account of the country’s first female Supreme Court associate justice debunks this belief.

Late SC associate justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma, who was appointed to the highest court by dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr, reportedly shared her account in the photo book “People Power: An Eyewitness History” in 1987.

Accounts said Palma was “one of the independent members” of the Supreme Court and had rendered dissenting opinions critical of his regime.

She was also one of those instrumental in convincing Aquino to challenge Marcos Sr for the presidency in the 1986 snap election.

In addition, the magistrate became the chairperson of the Constitution Commission, which eventually led to the drafting of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

Meanwhile, Palma reportedly shared in the photo book that she was personally with Aquino when the latter had received a phone call from then-US Ambassador to the Philippines Stephen Bosworth.

In Palma’s account, the diplomat told Aquino that “Marcos was ready to leave but was asking to stay for at least two days in Paoay, his hometown in the North.”

At that time, the dictator has been ousted by the People Power Revolution and was on his way to Hawaii.

“Cory’s initial reaction was: ‘Poor man, let us give him two days.’ But we did not agree with that idea. We thought that given the chance, Marcos may regroup his forces or extend his stay indefinitely. Cory then called Ambassador Bosworth to say that she could not grant the request. Marcos should just leave the country,” Palma wrote.

“When Ambassador Bosworth called her back, it was to say that Marcos had left. Cool as always. Cory turned to us after she put the phone down. She said simply: ‘Marcos has left.’ She said it as if it was the most ordinary thing. We all shouted jubilantly. Cory did not,” the magistrate added.

Palma’s account goes against what a viral still from an upcoming movie claims.

A still from the dramedy “Maid in Malacañang” shows a woman in a yellow blouse on a phone call.

Aquino was associated with color yellow.

The movie still has the subtitle “Get them out of the Philippines.”

The official fan page of Kris Aquino, the late president’s daughter, shared the post and juxtaposed it with a supposed copy of Palma’s account.

A Facebook group also added another piece of information to counter the movie’s “bad” portrayal of the first female president.

“Pinagmukhang masama si Cory dun sa Movie ha? E itong si Cory Aquino nga ang nagbayad sa hospital bills ni Josefa Marcos. Nung tumakas sila papuntang Hawaii, iniwan ‘yung nanay sa hospital,” the post said.

It was accompanied by a screenshot of a news article from the Associated Press which reported that Aquino’s office “agreed to pay the hospital bills ‘for humanitarian reasons’ after a local newspaper columnist wrote that Marcos’ mother did not have the money to do so.”

At that time, the 93-year-old matriarch was at the Philippine Heart Center when her son Marcos Sr and his family fled to Hawaii.

The report said that Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Art Borjal had suggested for the Aquino government use funds frozen in Marcos’ Philippine accounts to pay his mother’s hospital bills.

The Washington Post reported that “American pressure had played an important role in leading Marcos to his decision to avoid a bloody battle with his opponents.”

It added that the dictator had accepted an offer of sanctuary from then-US president Ronald Reagan after Filipinos ousted the former in the EDSA Revolution.

The Chicago Tribune also reported that Marcos Sr, “an old personal friend of the President,” received a letter from Reagan who praised him for deciding to step down and avoid bloodshed from happening in the Philippines.

The report added that Hawaii was “a favorite vacation spot in the past” of the dictator.