MANILA, Philippines -- Imelda Marcos returned to the Philippines Monday to exact her pound of flesh six years after a People Power revolution forced her latge husband into U.S. exile.
Despite pronouncements that the widow of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos no longer harbors anger or bitterness, many diplomats believe the woman called 'the steel butterfly' has come back to take her revenge.
The 62-year-old Mrs. Marcos is known to be one who does not easily forget a slight.
She blamed the late opposition leader Benigno Aquino for a miscarriage in the late 1960s because of his incessant criticism of the cultural center complex she built. Aquino said the center blotted the view of the beautiful sunset at Manila bay.
When martial law was declared, Aquino was first to be arrested. Investigators summoned Mrs. Marcos to appear before a panel that probed the 1983 assassination of Aquino, but she was not among the soldiers and civilian officials brought to trial for the murder.
Aquino's murder sparked widespread protests that culminated in the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos from 20 years in power. Aquino's widow, Corazon, took over from Marcos.
Mrs. Marcos has disavowed any plans to run for president, but she also says she will not go against the will of the people.
Corazon Aquino, 58, has said she has no intention of running for reelection. However, relatives say the housewife-turned-president will seek another six-year term.
Commentators see a 'war of the widows' in the May 1992 general elections.
The reception given to Mrs. Marcos by her supporters on her arrival Monday signals the kind of high-profile political campaign that could distract the nation reeling from a series of natural disasters, including a killer earthquake and a volcano eruption, in the last months of the Aquino regime.
The schedule Mrs. Marcos's publicists have released for the week shows this.
She will visit her husband's northern home province, her own bailiwick in the central island of Leyte, a U.N. refugee camp on Bataan island, towns devastated by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo volcano in June and the U.S.-operated Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base.
Renewal of the lease on Subic was rejected by the Senate in September and her trip to the facilities could remind the Americans they lost the bases because they gave up on Ferdinand Marcos.
After the 1986 uprising broke out, the Reagan administration told the late dictator to 'cut and cut cleanly.'
Popular columnist Amando Doronilla said the return of Mrs. Marcos was a 'day of national shame.'
'It is a triumph of trivia and false political values over the serious business of getting the nation out of the mess left by the Marcos regime,' said Doronilla.
'Mrs. Marcos is exacting her pound of flesh,' said one diplomat. 'A woman scorned is incapable of reconciliation,' he said.
Mrs. Marcos says she came home to answer charges she and her husband looted the treasury of the impoverished nation of upward of $5 billion.
Legal experts say it will take forever to litigate the cases against Mrs. Marcos, who has hired the best lawyers in the land.
Diplomats say Mrs. Marcos could easily turn any courtroom into her own forum for retribution.