Marcos: Philippines is not 'pet dog' of US
Manila — President Ferdinand Marcos sharply criticized the United States and praised his temporarily suspended chief of staff, Gen. Fabian Ver, in a speech to a major Army command this weekend.
General Ver, one of President Marcos's closest aides, was implicated last week in one of two reports on the 1983 assassination of Philippine opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr.
Meanwhile on Sunday, 68 generals affirmed their support for Ver in a full-page ''manifesto'' published in a Manila daily. The officers' expression of support was, however, limited to Ver. The other two generals implicated in the assassination, Gens. Prospero Olivas and Luther Custodio, were not mentioned. One name conspicuously absent from the manifesto was that of Gen. Fidel Ramos, the acting chief of staff.
Immediately after the release of the report by four of the five members of a Fact-Finding Board investigating the killing, the US State Department issued a statement with the curt title, ''US expects swift action on the Aquino case.'' In a speech Saturday, President Marcos responded.
''We are not doing things here in order to satisfy either the State Department or the Americans,'' Marcos said, but to meet the requirements of the Philippine Constitution.
''We are thankful for such a strong and very generous ally as the United States of America,'' the President continued. But the Philippines does not want to appear to be the ''pet dog'' of any Western power, he said.
The President warned against unnamed forces who might try to use the Aquino case to undermine the government. Opposition groups and Mr. Aquino's widow, Corazon, have already called for peaceful pressure to force Marcos's resignation.
Even more threatening forces - again unnamed, but probably the underground Communist Party of the Philippines - might, Marcos claimed, try to take advantage of the situation to intensify their campaign of terror.
Until now it seemed that President Reagan's comments on the Philippines during his second debate with Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale had mostly offended the political opposition here. Mr. Reagan's comments, notably the remark that the most likely alternative to the Marcos regime would be a communist government, provoked a wave of criticism here. On Saturday a leader of the opposition Pilipino Democratic Party, Jaime Ferrer, denounced the Reagan statement as ''the synthesis of that oversimplistic American viewpoint....'' Mr. Ferrer is known for his anticommunist, pro-US sentiments.
US officials in the Philippines were apparently shocked by Reagan's comments.
The Reagan comments are generally seen by Filipino opposition supporters as a revelation of the true nature of Reagan's attitude toward the Marcos regime. But now it seems that Reagan's statements also irritated Marcos, who was apparently annoyed that the US should feel his government was vulnerable to overthrow.
Marcos also expressed his ''highest admiration'' for the action of Ver in taking temporary leave from his position as chief of staff last week. An informed government source, however, says that the decision that Ver should take leave was the President's, not the general's. And there is still no sign that Ver has taken leave from his position as chief of the powerful National Intelligence and Security Authority.
The board's final majority report lists 25 military men and one civilian as ''indictable for the premeditated killing'' of Aquino. An earlier report to the board written by one of its senior attorneys, Bienvenido Tan, gave an even longer list of alleged conspirators. These included Ver and many others named in the final report.
One significant addition, however, was the name of Col. Maximo Mejia, Philippines Constabulary commander for the province of Bulacan. Colonel Mejia is believed to be close to businessman Eduardo Cojuangco, a friend of Marcos and longtime political rival of Aquino. Mr. Cojuangco is widely viewed as either one of the most likely successors to Marcos, or the man who will play a major role in designating the successor.