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Denies Encouraging Manila Protests : Marcos Warns of Trouble Ahead for 'Madame Cory'

April 19, 1986|MICHAEL WINES | Times Staff Writer

He also said that Jovito R. Salonga, head of the Commission on Good Government investigating Marcos's hidden wealth, "has a green card, I heard, in the United States." A green card is a U.S. document granting an alien permanent resident status in America.

"For that matter," Marcos added, "I have received a letter questioning the citizenship of Madame Cory Aquino on the grounds that she has a permanent residence in Boston, worth $500,000, and holds a green card."

Among alleged injustices of the Aquino regime, Marcos contended that the wife of a former aide recently was terrorized by Filipino police and was saved only by the personal intervention of Aquino's defense minister.

The Filipino people, he said, are already "sick and tired of a revolutionary government where there are no laws, no rule, no courts--where everyone who has a gun is the law."

Disparages Military

The former president reserved his hardest shots, however, for the Philippine military, which was losing ground to Communist and Muslim rebels during his rule and is still under assault. Citing unnamed "reports," Marcos said he had been told that one-third of the armed forces were absent without leave, that casualties are skyrocketing and that 65 battle tanks have vanished.

"Tactically trained combat leaders are shoved aside for politically, shall we say, strong officers," he said. "This is very pervasive. . . . They don't know a damned thing about fighting."

As in previous talks, Marcos argued that Aquino's alleged political problems will worsen unless she shares power with a state council headed by Arturo Tolentino, Marcos' vice presidential running mate. Tolentino, who remained in Manila after Marcos left, is among key advisers who talk almost daily with the former president.

Asked why Aquino should not lead any provisional government, Marcos said, "Because she has no legitimate right to. And the people know it."

Despite his criticisms, Marcos contended that he is "irrelevant" to Manila's political arithmetic and that he fears that the city's pro-Marcos protests might inflame political divisions.

Urges Against Violence

Philippine observers have speculated that Marcos is stage-managing the demonstrations and even working covertly with Muslim insurgents seeking independence on Mindanao Island. But he said he had urged his supporters not to turn to violence but instead to lobby American officials for changes in the Aquino government.

Otherwise, he maintained, the Philippines' political collapse will lead to the loss of key naval and air bases, finally tipping the balance of power to the Soviet Union in all of Asia. Already, he said, "the belief of the Philippine people in the American word of honor . . . is slowly receding."

Marcos' remarks bore traces of bitterness over the apparent loss of the Reagan Administration's political support and the riches that left the country with him. His voice was steely when he recalled an attack by rebel helicopters on his Manila palace.

"We should have prepared . . . ," he said, "so when the helicopters, armed by the forces of the United States, fly over the palace we could knock them down with anti-aircraft." That, he said, would "show everyone, including the United States, that you can't do this."

Money, Jewels Were Seized

Most of the money, jewels and personal possessions that came to Hawaii with the Marcoses were seized by Customs Service officials and are being held until a federal court decides what to do with them. Moreover, the promise of "safe haven" given Marcos by President Reagan has been tempered by later warnings that Marcos can be sued, tried and even jailed like any U.S. citizen.

At least two federal grand juries are believed to be looking into Marcos' affairs, and one is reported to have subpoenaed the contents of one of his daughters' bank safety-deposit boxes.

"All of this could have been avoided with a clear statement of my status," Marcos complained. "Am I going to be treated like an ordinary citizen? Then, OK. But don't seize my assets and funds, and let us lead a decent life. I am practically living on the charity of my Ilocanos relations," a reference to other Filipinos here from Marcos' home province of Ilocos Norte who bring the former president food and other gifts daily.

Jokes of 'Hidden Wealth'

He poked fun at what he called "the much-publicized hidden wealth of President Marcos, which we are not about to spend, of course, because the truth of the matter is, we don't own it."

Marcos expressed outrage over Customs' seizure of $1.2 million to $1.4 million in Philippine pesos from a second jet that followed the presidential party to Hawaii. Some of the crated money was personal wealth, he said, but most was intended to repay the debts incurred by his political party in his presidential campaign.

Without that money, he said, "let us admit it--we are short of funds."

Asked how the couple affords a $4,500-a-month house and a $15,000-a-month security bill with most of their funds in federal custody, he first joked about economizing on family expenses.

"We have tried to borrow money," he said. "We are still borrowing money." Then, pausing a beat, he added: "Of course, I find it harder to borrow money now than when I was president."

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