Former Senator Benigno Aquino, the Philippines' best-known arch-rival of President Ferdinand Marcos, left Manila on Thursday for heart surgery in the United States.
GV: Manila airport passenger bus arrives
SV: Aquino getting off bus with friends
SV: Aquino talking to press and boarding 747
GV: PAL jet and well-wishers
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Background: Former Senator Benigno Aquino, the Philippines' best-known arch-rival of President Ferdinand Marcos, left Manila on Thursday for heart surgery in the United States.
In a fast-moving series of events, the 47-year-old political detainee left for Dallas, Texas, for a heart bypass operation.
Military medial authorities said Aquino may have only six months to one year to live unless he undergoes a heart operation.
The opposition leader, who had been detained since the martial law proclaimed by Marcos in September 1972, was sent off by a crowd of close friends, including some opposition members.
Mr. Aquino told press hat he was taking his wife, Cory, and three of his five children with him "in case anything should happened during my operation."
But he said, "I am not worried. I hope to be back in three weeks."
He said he would stay away a maximum of four weeks and then return to his cell at Fort Bonifacio on the outskirt of Manila.
The President gave his approval for Mr. Aquino's temporary release late Wednesday night, on condition the supreme court concurred.
The court was involved because in 1977, Aquino was sentenced to death by a military tribunal on charges of murder, subversion and illegal possession of arms.