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Aquino Disputes Reagan Remarks : Warns on Siding With Marcos to 'Cheat Filipinos of Liberation'

February 13, 1986|NICK B. WILLIAMS Jr. and DOYLE McMANUS | Times Staff Writers

MANILA — Corazon Aquino, declaring that she had won an "overwhelming mandate" in last week's presidential election, warned President Reagan on Wednesday against conspiring with her opponent, Ferdinand E. Marcos, "to cheat the Filipino people out of their liberation."

In a statement responding to Reagan's remarks Tuesday night, the opposition candidate said it "would be a delusion of policy that an opposition whose leaders and followers have and are being killed can suddenly settle down to a Western-style opposition role in a two-party system.

"Too many would be dead the moment the world's head was turned."

At a press conference Tuesday, Reagan said the United States is neutral in the still-undecided election, but that "we're encouraged . . . that it's evident that there is a two-party system in the Philippines and a pluralism that I think would, would benefit their people."

Disputes Reagan on Fraud

Aquino also disputed the President's contention that violence and fraud in the election "could have been . . . occurring on both sides."

"His own observers said when they were here that they had seen it only on one side," her statement said. "Also, I refer the President to the statements of Cardinal (Jaime) Sin that only one side had the means and power to perpetrate fraud."

U.S. Ambassador Stephen W. Bosworth was seen at Aquino headquarters shortly after the statement was read by one of her spokesmen, but it was not known whether he met with the opposition candidate. While professing to be neutral in the election, the United States is known to be concerned about the possible results of street demonstrations, which Aquino has said she would lead if President Marcos is declared the winner.

After insisting she had won the election, Aquino said: "No Filipino president has ever received the overwhelming mandate at the polls that I have received. I have received that mandate to restore the people's rights and freedoms.

"I would wonder at the motives of a friend of democracy who chose to conspire with Mr. Marcos to cheat the Filipino people of their liberation."

On the question of fraud, Aquino said, "We estimate that we actually scored at least a 25% majority in (last Friday's) poll.

"We lost 10% through deliberate under-registration and a deliberate go-slow in precincts where our support was high. In Metro Manila alone, we have lost a million votes because of this, a quarter of the electors."

Aquino said that ballot-stuffing, flying voters, and false returns, cost her another 10%.

She added that "a further 5% or so has been stolen by the open thuggery and bribery that took place, in some cases under the eyes of the foreign media and their cameras."

There was confusion across the country Friday because voters could not find their names on the precinct lists, and in many precincts the polls opened late.

The Aquino camp has interpreted remarks by Reagan this week as calling on the opposition to respect the results of the current official tabulation of votes in the National Assembly, which opposition supporters say are tainted by fraud.

Unofficial Counts Differ

In unofficial counts, Aquino was ahead in the tally of the independent National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), while Marcos led in the results posted by the government's Commission on Elections.

NAMFREL, with 64% of the precincts reporting, listed 7.15 million votes (52.3%) for Aquino, and 6.53 million (47.3%) for Marcos.

The government's Commission on Elections, with two-thirds of the precincts counted, listed 7 million (50.6%) for Marcos and 6.85 million (49.4%) for Aquino.

Aquino also said she welcomed Reagan's designation of retired diplomat Philip C. Habib as a special emissary to consult with both sides in the contested election. But she went on to say: "I must confess to some alarm, however, that his last task for the President was trying to negotiate an end to Lebanon's civil war. I hope neither Mr. Reagan nor Mr. Marcos is expecting to see our beloved country go the same way.

Vows to Remain Peaceful

"We shall continue to use peaceful means to ensure the transition to an Aquino presidency as soon as possible."

At the assembly, where the official vote-counting procedure continued Wednesday, Homobono Adaza, a key Aquino supporter, said Habib could jump in the ocean if he is coming here to support proposals of Marcos. He mentioned Marcos' statment that, if reelected, he would form a council of state and invite Aquino to join.

Reagan said Tuesday that he is sending Habib, a former special envoy to the Middle East, to "assess the desires and needs of the Filipino people" in the wake of the election.

The presidential office had no immediate comment on Habib's mission.

However, Labor Minister Blas Ople, who headed Marcos' reelection campaign, said he welcomes the Habib mission. "No senior statesman in the Philippines is capable of bringing about a reconciliation of the parties," Ople said. "If you are looking for a mediator you'd have to look outside to settle the problem.

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