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Communist Participation Welcome, Aquino Declares

January 02, 1986|United Press International

MANILA — Opposition leader Corazon Aquino said today communists would be welcome in a new government under her leadership but they must first renounce all forms of violence.

She also ridiculed warnings that her election in Feb. 7 presidential voting would lead to a communist takeover, pointing out during a campaign sweep into a government stronghold that it was President Ferdinand E. Marcos' wife, Imelda, who recently visited the Soviet Union.

The widow of assassinated former Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr. toured an area know as the "solid north" for its strong support of Marcos, getting her biggest reception in Baguio, 130 miles north of Manila, where about 5,000 people gave her a rousing welcome.

"There is no longer a solid north," Aquino said earlier to a crowd of 3,000 in the town of Narvacan. "I can tell this to the people in Manila."

Aquino, her hair still filled with confetti thrown by supporters, dismissed suggestions during a news conference after the Baguio rally that she was vulnerable to communist influence.

"I understand it was Mrs. Marcos who went to Russia to talk with the Russians. I have not even talked to any Russian at this point. I think I would be the last person in the world to be a communist," she said.

Aquino also said the communists would be "very welcome" in the new government but must first renounce all forms of violence. "I believe in a pluralistic society and if they want to be part of the electoral process, they can compete in a free market," she said.

The 68-year-old Marcos has cut short his current six-year term by 16 months and called the election in the face of Washington's criticism of his handling of a communist insurgency threatening strategic U.S. military bases in the Philippines.

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