An astute politician who always appreciated the value of personal connections back in Manila, deposed Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos has called on one of Washington's best-connected young law firms to help pull him out of a widening legal quagmire.
The five-year-old, 17-lawyer firm of Anderson, Hibey, Nauheim & Blair is no match in size or longevity for Washington's several legal giants, but its partners have experience in trade and international issues, and personal ties to the White House.
The firm also had links, at least indirectly, to the deposed president that apparently have made the difference in winning the nod to manage Marcos' fight to prevent U.S. and Philippine authorities from getting possession of documents and money brought to Hawaii by Marcos and 89 associates.
As with any dispute involving billions of dollars, lawyers from all sides, including the firms of courtroom superstars Edward Bennett Williams and Melvin Belli, have been called in to assist various litigants. But for now, the leading role has gone to the small Washington firm on New Hampshire Avenue, which also has many Japanese clients.
The firm's senior partner, Stanton D. Anderson, 45, is an international trade expert and former Nixon White House aide who remains close to Republican political consultant Paul J. Manafort, a key adviser to Marcos in his ill-fated campaign to win reelection Feb. 7, according to a Republican activist familiar with both men.
Anderson has declined to say why Marcos called on him, other than that he had had some previous contact with the Philippine leader. During the Nixon and Ford administrations, Anderson served as deputy assistant secretary of state for congressional affairs and was once nominated by President Richard M. Nixon to be ambassador to Costa Rica. He withdrew in October 1974, after some senators attempted to block the appointment because of his association with Nixon and his age, which would have made him the youngest U.S. ambassador at that time.
Although Anderson has seen Marcos in Hawaii, the first member of the firm to arrive here was Richard Hibey, still engaged in the case of Jonathan Jay Pollard, who federal authorities say sold classified U.S. documents to Israel. Hibey also represented Rep. Edward R. Roybal (D-Calif.) in congressional disciplinary actions related to the 1978 "Koreagate" scandal and defended an unemployed District of Columbia janitor charged in the 1983 kidnaping of the wife of a former Salvadoran ambassador.
A former assistant U.S. attorney, Hibey, 44, has mostly avoided the press as he moves from Marcos' Hickam Air Force Base quarters to his Waikiki hotel to a Honolulu federal courtroom.
Coaxed briefly out of a downtown law office earlier this month, Hibey (pronounced HIGH-bee) seemed to have adopted the casual Hawaiian attitude toward workday dress; his blue polo shirt and pastel madras slacks would have convinced his Washington colleagues that he was headed for the golf course rather than another daily conference with a world-famous client.
But he appeared to have been so absorbed in the intricate struggle to keep Marcos' money out of Philippine government hands that he was stunned, and then amused, to learn that a Honolulu paper had researched files to produce the day before a story about him headlined: "High Stakes, International Disputes Familiar Ground for Marcos Attorney."
In Marcos, Anderson and Hibey have a client who prides himself on his own knowledge of Philippine, American and international law. Marcos became famous throughout the Philippines when still in his 20s for recording the highest score ever on the national bar exam and then immediately and successfully defending himself against a charge that he had murdered a political opponent of his father.
Another partner in the firm, Eric I. Garfinkel, 31, has been handling Marcos' East Coast battle to prevent release of a list of the goods and copies of the documents he brought with him in his hasty flight from Manila to Honolulu last month. Garfinkel was formerly a Reagan White House assistant.
Managing partner Robert A. Blair, an active Democrat, is coordinating the firm's work for Marcos in Hawaii, Washington and New York, Anderson said. The attorneys declined to discuss the fees they are charging for representing Marcos.
In Honolulu, Hibey has joined with the law firm of Kobayashi, Watanabe, Sugita, & Kawashima, headed by the son of a former member of the state supreme court, to defend Marcos and his closest aides and family in the currency case.
Among other clients, Hibey in 1984 represented Hesham Ibrahem, a student from Egypt, when Ibrahem was mistakenly awarded $100,000 rather than $50,000 in the D.C. lottery. Hibey defended Ibrahem against efforts to deport him for alleged misuse of a student visa. He said his client returned to Egypt voluntarily, with his $100,000 intact.