MANILA — A political foe of Corazon Aquino today released the text of a wiretapped telephone call between the president and her advisers which he said showed the government tried to influence an independent constitution-drafting commission into taking a pro-U.S. stand.
The paper also contained a tacit admission by Executive Secretary Joker Arroyo and Aquino that the United States maintains nuclear weapons in the Philippines. The United States refuses to confirm the presence of nuclear weapons there or elsewhere overseas.
Former Assemblyman Homobono Adaza released the transcript to reporters at a news conference. Adaza, a right-winger, supported Aquino's February, 1986, takeover from ousted President Ferdinand E. Marcos but later joined the opposition. Adaza now is identified with former Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, whom Aquino dismissed from her Cabinet last November amid rumors of an attempted coup
Arroyo's Phone Tapped
Adaza said he obtained the tapes some time ago. He did not say how he obtained the transcript and tapes, but he indicated that they were from taps on Arroyo's telephone during Aquino's visit to America in September.
He said he wanted to refute claims by Aquino and government members that the constitutional commission was an independent body and that her administration would not exert any influence on its members, who were Aquino appointees.
The transcript depicted Aquino as worried what effect a constitutional provision against nuclear arms might have on her request for more U.S. aid.
The provision states that "the Philippines, consistent with the national interest, adopts and pursues a policy of freedom from nuclear weapons in its territory."
Vote a Surprise
According to the transcript, Arroyo said he did not understand why the pro-bases faction in the commission had not voted against the provision, which passed unanimously, and suggested they were ignorant of the implications.
The transcript had Aquino replying in Tagalog, "You know, I'm surprised by such people as Kaplan (Philip Kaplan, the U.S. Embassy's deputy chief of mission). Why didn't they explain this to, you know, their people (in the commission)?"
According to the transcript, Aquino passed the telephone to presidential speech writer Teodoro Locsin Jr., who asked Arroyo, "In practical terms, is it possible to undo this vote?"
"Yes, yes," replied Arroyo, the transcript read. "But . . . part of the problem is they have not gotten clear signals from the president."
Locsin told Arroyo the Americans were not supposed to try to influence the commission members directly, the transcript said.
Locsin was quoted as saying, "Any influence Americans try to exert on them is done through us."