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Senate, 85-9, Condemns Vote in Philippines

February 20, 1986|SARA FRITZ | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Ignoring Reagan Administration pleas for caution, the Senate adopted a resolution Wednesday condemning the recent Philippines election, and a growing number of lawmakers called for the ouster of President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

The Senate resolution, adopted by a vote of 85 to 9, declared that the Feb. 7 elections "were marked by such widespread fraud that they cannot be considered a reflection of the will of the people of the Philippines." It also called on President Reagan to "personally convey" U.S. concern to Marcos.

Although the resolution is non-binding, many members of Congress viewed it as a prelude to the passage of bipartisan legislation that would suspend U.S. military aid to the Marcos government and redirect economic aid to private Filipino groups. Such legislation is being drafted in the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees.

Both the Senate resolution and the possible aid cutoff were portrayed by many members as signals to Marcos that he should surrender power to his presidential challenger, Corazon Aquino.

"My own view is that we ought to offer to send the same plane for Marcos that we sent for 'Baby Doc' Duvalier," Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) said, in a reference to the recently ousted Haitian president-for-life.

Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) added that Reagan should tell Marcos what British Prime Minister Winston Churchill told his predecessor, Neville Chamberlain, during the worst days of World War II: "Go. Depart. Leave. There is no more that you do except serve evil ends. Go."

Cranston and California's Republican senator, Pete Wilson, voted for the resolution. The nine votes against it came from conservative senators--one Democrat and eight Republicans.

At the same time, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) introduced legislation calling for a study of the feasibility of relocating two major U.S. military bases in the Philippines. And Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) offered a bill calling on Reagan to suspend sugar imports from the Philippines and block further international bank loans to the Marcos regime.

Secretary of State George P. Shultz sought to quell the rapidly snowballing anti-Marcos sentiment in Congress. He told members of the Senate Budget Committee that they should exercise "care and a little patience" in dealing with foreign aid--at least until Reagan has received the report of his special envoy to the Philippines, Philip C. Habib.

"We want to stay connected with the Philippines--we don't want to walk away from them," Shultz said. "How to do that under present circumstances is a difficult task. . . . We have sent them a very strong signal. . . . They know our concern. Now, I think we want to work with all parties and see how we can help to resolve these problems in the most effective way."

While noting that the United States must act to protect its military bases in the Philippines, he repeated his earlier statements that the bases will not be the only consideration in the development of U.S. policy toward the Marcos regime.

"We have a stake in freedom, and we have a stake in democracy--let's put that first, over and above the bases," he said. "We are in a very delicate situation. We don't want to jump at it with some precipitous action."

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger sounded an unusually conciliatory note when pressed by members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on whether the Administration would support the suspension of U.S. aid. He said Administration officials "certainly recognize the worries Congress has and share them."

But Weinberger emphasized that the Administration still opposes an aid cutoff because it would "hurt the Philippine people" and hamper the military in its fight against the Communist guerrillas of the New People's Army.

In private, Administration officials have been reminding members of Congress that under an existing bilateral agreement with Marcos, the President is obligated to make a "best-faith effort" to persuade Congress to fully fund U.S. aid to the Philippines.

Despite the Administration's opposition, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), a staunch Administration ally, testified before the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Pacific and Asian affairs in support of a suspension of aid.

"President Marcos has no credibility. He has no mandate," Lugar said in a prepared statement.

Lugar and Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House subcommittee, pledged to work together to draft legislation that would place all unobligated military aid for fiscal 1986 and 1987 into an escrow account, where it would remain until Reagan certifies that "a legitimate government is established that has the confidence of the Filipino people."

Still available to Marcos would be an estimated $31 million that he has already received for fiscal 1985 and 1986 but has not yet spent. Solarz said he hopes the continued availability of this money would satisfy Administration officials, who fear that a complete aid cutoff might tie the hands of the Philippine army in fighting the Communist insurgency.

Congress has already appropriated nearly $250 million in economic aid to the Philippines for the current fiscal year and for fiscal 1987.

Many members of Congress expressed the view that Reagan might be able to persuade Marcos to step down, particularly if Congress cuts off aid. "The one trump card that hasn't been played is the President calling President Marcos and telling him to leave," Bradley said.

Times staff writers Norman Kempster and Bob Secter also contributed to this story.

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