WHETHER Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda, wind up living permanently outside the United States or not, Washington must continue to cooperate fully in Manila's legal proceedings against the former President. The Reagan administration has so far handled Manila's inquiry into the Marcos fortune with a proper regard for disclosure. While granting Marcos asylum, Washington has turned over to the Aquino government copies of financial documents related to the former President.
Timely action regarding the sharing of documents is now particularly important, since any relocation of the Marcos family outside the US could not help but complicate future legal proceedings by Manila. In view of this, a flight of Mr. Marcos outside the US must be regretted. Washington may have to honor a Marcos request to leave American shores. But given all the legal questions now raised, including whether or not US taxpayer dollars might have been diverted to Marcos's hoards, Washington surely need not go out of its way to provide red carpet treatment to the former President as he journeys to a ``safer'' haven than Hawaii, such as Panama.
Legal experts assume that US courts would have jurisdiction to pursue property and embezzlement suits against the former President so long as Marcos is also residing in the US and has property there. What happens regarding such actions when Mr. Marcos is physically outside the United States becames more uncertain, although US courts would still have jurisdiction over Marcos property holdings. US courts would presumably not have jurisdiction in tort actions (such as human rights cases against Marcos) if Marcos lives outside the US. The Panamanian legal system, moreover, differs fundamentally from the US system, making successful tort actions there highly unlikely.
Mr. Marcos can now be expected to transfer much of his wealth outside the US. Washington, for its part, must take appropriate legal steps, such as possibly freezing Marcos holdings, to ensure that there is a full and fair accounting of the Marcos fortune.