MANILA — President Corazon Aquino, moving to make her government "an effective instrument of progress" after sacking Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, today fired two more Cabinet ministers.
"I am compelled by the national interest to make some changes in my government with a view to hammering it into an effective instrument of progress," Aquino said in a televised address.
Aquino said she has accepted the resignations of Natural Resources Minister Ernesto Maceda and Public Works and Highways Minister Rogaciano Mercado.
Maceda was replaced by banker Carlos Dominguez, currently deputy minister of agriculture. Philippine National Bank President Vicente Jayme succeeds Mercado.
No Charges Brought
Newspapers have suggested that Maceda and Mercado had been involved in questionable transactions in their ministries, but they have denied this and no charges have been brought against them.
Aquino on Sunday asked for the mass resignation of her 25-member Cabinet after an aborted military coup plot. The first resignation she accepted was Enrile's.
Aquino said Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, her armed forces chief, and Rafael Ileto, her new defense minister, share her confidence that "we have achieved a level of cooperation and dedication in the new armed forces that will enable us to achieve together in the coming years the goals of security and freedom."
Aquino later told a rally of supporters, "The enemies of Philippine freedom will campaign energetically for the rejection of the constitution," referring to a draft constitution that will be put to a popular vote Feb. 2.
'Forces of Evil'
"It is their burning desire to create a power vacuum so that the forces of evil can rush again into our lives, destroy our hopes and again degrade our nation," she said.
She did not say who the enemies were but apparently was referring to Marcos loyalists who are opposed to the draft charter. Aquino abolished Marcos' constitution last February.
Aquino's address came shortly after Enrile turned over his duties to Ileto, a retired West Point-trained three-star general and former diplomat.
"I leave without any rancor, without any regrets or without any recriminations," Enrile said in brief remarks to a packed crowd of about 500 at the social hall of the Defense Ministry broadcast by the armed forces and state radio stations.
"My dreams for our country and for our people have always been high and lofty. I shall continue to pursue these dreams even outside of government. They are beyond compromise for they are the ideals for which we stood for all these years," Enrile said.
Enrile, 62, a Harvard-trained lawyer who became defense minister Feb. 3, 1970, was mobbed by supporters, some of whom wept.
Enrile, who co-led the Feb. 25 revolution that brought Aquino to power and drove former President Ferdinand E. Marcos into exile in Hawaii, declined comment on reports that he plans to join the opposition Nacionalista Party.
Rene Cayetano, the party's secretary general, said in an interview that Enrile had agreed to join the group. "He will soon be the next president of the party," Cayetano said.