U.S. intelligence reports say that Philippines President Ferdinand E. Marcos, in the midst of a reelection campaign, is seriously ill with a cyclical, "potentially fatal" rare disease complicated by diabetes, well-informed sources said today.
According to the U.S. intelligence assessment, Marcos is suffering from a periodic form of lupus, a disease in which antibodies attack the body's own tissues, including such organs as the kidneys.
The U.S. reports said that Marcos has had "a number of kidney transplants" but his body has rejected the transplanted organs each time. In addition, the reports say, he suffers from diabetes.
Reports from the Philippines said Marcos appears tired from the election campaign. He is often carried by aides to his campaign appearances and sometimes is propped up during speeches.
The Washington Post said Marcos, 68, "is so weakened" that he has had to cut back on his out-of-Manila campaign dates because of his failing health.
The newspaper said Marcos has already survived bouts with lupus, but each time has recovered to a "lower plateau."
Failing health could seriously hamper Marcos in his bid to retain the presidency he has held for the past 20 years.
Aquino Much Younger
On Feb. 7 voters will choose between him and Corazon Aquino, the wife of Benigno S. Aquino Jr., Marcos' chief political opponent who was slain on his return to the Philippines three years ago. Cory Aquino is 26 years younger than Marcos and is waging a vigorous but decidedly uphill campaign.
In Manila, Philippine Information Minister Gregorio Cendana today denied reports that Marcos is ill. "He is in the public view for all to see," Cendana said. "How can he stand the rigors of the 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. campaign if he is not healthy?"
A statement issued later in the day by the Philippine government described reports of Marcos bleeding while campaigning Thursday as "completely fabricated." It said reports of "emergency treatment" on Marcos for a scratch on his hand were "like comparing a burp to a heart seizure," the presidential palace statement said.
Marcos campaigned in two cities north of Manila on Thursday but was visibly tired. He dabbed his watering eyes repeatedly and took frequent drinks on a stage in the town of Urdaneta. At one point, reporters saw him swallow what appeared to be some pills on stage and wash them down with water.
Help From Aide
An aide kept a firm hand to his back to help him ascend a slight incline to Urdaneta's market area.
In Dagupan City, his second stop, a woman in a surging crowd tried to grab Marcos as he was being carried by aides toward the stage, apparently scratching him on his right hand, drawing blood from a spot frequently seen covered by a bandage. He was treated by a nurse and then spoke for more than an hour.
Despite government denials, Marcos has delayed or canceled several campaign trips outside Manila. He is usually carried into town plazas for speeches but sometimes walks on his own.