MANILA — Opposition leaders called Friday on the powerful Philippine armed forces to abandon their support for President Ferdinand E. Marcos, and they presented a national police captain who said he was resigning because he would rather die fighting against a government he called "illegitimate, repressive, unjust and corrupt" than die fighting for it.
At a press conference, Capt. Juan Resurreccion, 29, conceded that his was the protest of just one man, but he said the majority of Philippine military officers shared his view that Marcos' Feb. 7 reelection was fraudulent. Resurreccion's announcement came amid increasing signs of factionalism and discontent in the 200,000-member Philippine military, which includes the national police, which the captain quit.
"I am not a high-ranking general or colonel, I am a mere soldier to whom God has given the strength and the courage to stand up for what he believes," the captain said, reading from a two-page resignation letter that he said he sent Marcos earlier this week. "The majority of the officers in the Philippine Constabulary feel this way. . . . But they have families."
But, he added, "When the time comes for the fight, I am sure we can count on them to be with us."
'Fears for Life'
Resurreccion, who was assigned to an intelligence unit in the Ministry of Defense, said he knew that so public a resignation may put his life in danger, "because anybody who goes against Marcos today fears for his life."
Sitting beside him Friday, opposition leader Corazon Aquino's vice presidential running mate, Salvador Laurel, used the occasion to issue a plea to all Philippine armed forces personnel to abandon Marcos' "repudiated" regime.
"I call on those members of the military to join the people in refusing to obey the immoral and illicit orders of a dying regime," Laurel said, adding that the opposition has already secured promises from about 20 colonels and generals that they will support him and Aquino if the opposition succeeds in overthrowing Marcos.
Noting Marcos' threat this week to use force, if necessary, to end the opposition's series of protest rallies and formal boycotts of corporations and newspapers controlled by Marcos' friends, Laurel appealed to officers and soldiers "never to shoot at your own countrymen who are only using peaceful means to regain their lost liberties."
Laurel insisted that he was not calling for a military coup or a civil war, but he added that both could result if the president resorts to military force to break up the opposition's nonviolent civil disobedience campaign.
Major Strategy Step
After the press conference, top Aquino aide Ernesto Maceda said the opposition's appeal to the military Friday represented the last major step in Aquino's strategy of trying to alienate Marcos from all aspects of Filipino society, economic, religious and political.
"The two factors that are really crucial are the Americans and the military, and these are the only two factors left," Maceda said. "When both Washington and the Philippine military do come over to our side, that's the end of Mr. Marcos."
Aquino, who claims that she won the presidential election but that Marcos' forces "stole" it from her through fraud, violence and vote-buying nationwide, traveled today to the country's central Visayan islands to spread her call for Filipinos to withdraw their money from banks owned by Marcos' relatives and friends and to boycott beer, soft drinks and other products made by the so-called "crony companies."
In Manila, the boycott campaign was launched in earnest Friday, as Aquino supporters began going door-to-door to supermarkets and restaurants and picketing establishments not heeding the boycott call.
Maceda claimed that sales of San Miguel Corp., a giant company owned by friends of Marcos that produces the country's most popular brands of beer and soft drinks, were already down 30%, and that all seven boycotted banks are reporting huge withdrawals.
On Friday, Marcos issued a statement describing his foreign critics "modern-day imperialists" and calling his local opposition "ungracious electoral losers."
Nonetheless, the extent of disapproval expressed during the last week led a senior Aquino adviser, Teodoro Locsin, to comment, "I think we're beginning to convince the country and the world that we can just slow everything down here until Mr. Marcos resigns."
Locsin conceded that "the military will be the hardest" to convince, yet there were signs in Manila this week that the rock-hard veneer of Marcos' loyal military is beginning to crack.