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Imelda Marcos joins Philippine Congress

By GIRLIE LINAO

MANILA, Nov. 6 -- The widow of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos took her oath Monday as the newest member of the Philippines' House of Representatives in a grand comeback nearly a decade after her husband was ousted by a popular revolt.

Imelda Marcos drew mixed reactions when she took her seat as representative of her home province of Leyte, 370 miles (592 km) southeast of Manila, as some of her colleagues are old friends while others are enemies of the former first family.

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Clad in an immaculate white terno, a traditional Spanish-inspired long dress, Mrs. Marcos beamed with joy after she took her oath and waved to hundreds of supporters who packed the gallery of the House's session hall. She said a prayer instead of delivering a speech after her oath- taking.

"Lord, thank you for your protection, as your shield continues to save us from defilement, as the flow of history even now begins to reveal the truth in its proper perspective," Mrs. Marcos said.

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The flamboyant 66-year-old widow, known world-wide for her 3,000 pairs of shoes, earlier said her victory vindicated her late husband whose 20-year rule was toppled in 1986. Analysts believe the oath-taking signalled a comeback by the Marcoses, but countered that it does not vindicate the Marcos name.

"She is wrong at that," Luis Teodoro, a newspaper columnist and a former political activist, told UPI. "It just shows how rotten the political system is, that it is not an actual gauge of people's sentiments."

Mrs. Marcos, who entered the House building through a back entrance, was joined by her three children, Imee, Irene, and Ferdinand Jr., "Bongbong," who also served for four years beginning 1992 as congressman of his father's home province Ilocos Norte.

The usually vacant gallery was jammed by foreign and local reporters and hundreds of supporters who applauded and flashed the victory sign with their hand as the former first lady entered the hall. Only a handful of the 150 congressmen present welcomed the newest member of the House with a smile, a handshake or an applause.

Rep. Tessie Aquino-Oreta, sister of slain opposition leader Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, urged Mrs. Marcos to shed light on the assassination of her brother whose death galvanized opposition against the late dictator.

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"I feel that again history has played another trick," Oreta said in a statement. "The first lady of Mr. Marcos now stands among us in the institution that Mr. Marcos padlocked and abolished in the martial law system that he imposed more than 20 years ago."

Oreta, one of the 12 representatives who refused to shake hands with the former first lady, asked Mrs. Marcos to clarify how her family "amassed so much wealth that at one time, the family was listed as one of the richest in the world."

The Marcoses were forced to flee to Hawaii in 1986 at the height of a popular revolt that toppled the dictator's 20-year rule. Mrs. Marcos and her son returned from exile separately in 1991. In 1992, Mrs. Marcos ran for president and placed fifth in a field of seven candidates.

Her son ran and won a seat in the House of Representatives in the same year, but lost in the Senate race in May. Mrs. Marcos' entry to the House of Representatives has brought back memories of her husband's four-year term as congressman beginning 1949, which signalled the start of his political career.

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