In the past few days we have seen in the Philippines one of the most courageous defenses of democracy ever witnessed. Despite threats, beatings, outright fraud and murder, thousands of people took a stand for a fair and free election. Yet it seems to be for naught. The regime of Ferdinand Marcos is, once again, openly perverting the democratic process to assure itself of another victory.
What has been important to President Reagan during this perversion of democracy? Do the democratic aspirations of the Filipino people concern him most? Perhaps the issue of a fair and free election has been uppermost in his mind. Issues such as these certainly seemed important to him in regard to Nicaragua. But we learned from Reagan recently, though, that these things pale in importance to the issue of maintaining two U.S. military bases on Philippine soil.
Despite later statements primarily blaming electoral fraud on the Marcos regime this priority has never been restated. The bases apparently remain the President's No. 1 concern.