Oct 31, 2004  •  Post A Comment

`nation’ episode led to Marcos’ departure

President Ronald Reagan asked me to co-chair a large election observation delegation to the Philippines after President Ferdinand Marcos had challenged Americans to watch him win the Feb. 7, 1986, contest against Corazon Aquino. This experience led to my participation in two memorable “Face the Nation” programs, on Feb. 16 and 23 of that year.

In the first, I appeared from Indianapolis, with President Marcos in Manila and U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke in Washington. I repeated President Reagan’s conclusion from the day before, saying, “Although our observer delegation has not yet finished its work, it has already become evident, sadly, that the elections were marred by widespread fraud and violence perpetrated by the ruling party.” Understandably, Mr. Marcos differed with that conclusion.

But on “Face the Nation” the following Sunday, in the presence of Blas Ople, President Marcos’ campaign manager, who was another program guest in the Washington studio, I said in response to host Lesley Stahl’s leading question that Mr. Marcos should resign from office.

At 5 o’clock the following morning, President Reagan notified Mr. Marcos that he did not have U.S. support. During that afternoon, Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.) who was with me in Room S-407 of the U.S. Capitol, told President Marcos over long-distance telephone to “cut and cut clean,” and within hours, Mr. Marcos was en route to Hawaii. n

Five-term Senator Richard Lugar, R-Ind., is the longtime chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.