Written Responses to
Questions Submitted by Business Day and the Manila Chronicle
of the Philippines
September 15, 1986
Did the United States switch its support from
former President Marcos to President Aquino only at
the 11th hour?
The President. U.S. support for the
democratic process has been and continues to be the foundation of our
Philippine policy. During the last years of the administration of former
President Marcos, our specific policy goals, goals which enjoyed wide
bipartisan support in Congress, were: to support Filipino efforts to reform and
strengthen their political institutions; to encourage free-market reforms aimed
at dismantling monopoly structures and reducing government intervention in the
economy; and to support military reform aimed, particularly, at restoring
military professionalism and ending military abuses of individual and human
culmination of our policy was the support and encouragement the United States
gave to Filipino efforts to ensure that the February Presidential elections
were free, fair, and credible. As you know, the United States support included
sending an official delegation to observe those elections. Clearly, those
elections were not conducted in a manner credible to the Filipino people. The
events of February leading to the peaceful transition to a popular new
government were a tribute to the deeply felt Filipino commitment to democracy.
The United States moved swiftly to
recognize the new democratic government of President Aquino.
In so doing, we acknowledge the popular will of the Philippine people.
What is your attitude to President Aquino's approach
to the insurgency, and what mix of military and economic assistance should
support this approach?
The President. President Aquino's government has undertaken significant initial
measures to revive the economy, whose previous decline had been one key
contributing factor to the insurgency's growth. We hope these efforts will
continue and that once the macroeconomic policies are in place additional
measures targeted on the rural economy will be considered. Her government has
also taken important steps to restore professionalism and capabilities to the
Armed Forces. The ongoing efforts to explore the possibility of a cease-fire
and amnesty with the Communist insurgents deserve a chance to be tested. At the
same time, President Aquino has made clear from the
outset that if her efforts to find a peaceful solution are rejected she will
take appropriate measures, including whatever military action is necessary.
for the nature of U.S. aid, we are in full
agreement with President Aquino that priority must be
given to economic aid to assist in economic recovery and equitable growth. This
does not imply that military aid is not also required. U.S. Government
officials, including the Secretary of State, have consulted closely with the
Philippine Government on the need for continued military assistance to enhance
the Philippine military's capacity to meet the threat posed by the Communist
U.S. Military Bases
How would the United States deal with a Philippine
Government position against the extension of the tenure of U.S. military bases beyond
The President. The United States and the Philippines share the same interest
in the preservation of freedom and democracy in the Pacific region. For this
reason, I am confident that we will continue to enjoy a strong mutal defense relationship for the foreseeable future.
President Aquino has pledged publicly to respect the
military bases agreement through its current term. We understand and respect
her position. We will discuss the future of our defense relations during the
next scheduled review of these commitments in 1988.
How would the United States deal with the Aquino government if it achieved a modus vivendi with the left?
The President. The Philippine people
must be the judge of the government they want in the Philippines. Given the Philippine
people's deep and demonstrated commitment to democracy, I find it unlikely they
would accept a government which included individuals whose goals are the very
antithesis of democracy.
Weapons in the Philippines
How would you respond to a Philippine Government policy of banning U.S. nuclear weapons and
nuclear capable ships from the U.S. facilities in the Philippines?
The President. I prefer not to deal
with hypothetical situations. The United States policy is that we will
neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons aboard ships,
aircraft, or stored in any facilities.
Do you support President Aquino's economic recovery
plan and her efforts to reduce the Philippines $26 billion debt vis-a-vis the private banks, the multilateral lending
agencies, and in the Paris Club; and will the Baker plan benefit the Philippines?
The President. We strongly support the
important actions that President Aquino and her
government have taken to promote economic recovery in the Philippines. The government's tax
reform program and the moves undertaken to break up the monopolies which have
controlled the markets for certain commodities are vital steps toward
restoration of a vigorous, growth-oriented, free-market economy. Significant
steps are also being taken to liberalize existing trade restrictions and to
bring public sector spending down to healthier levels. We anticipate continued
progress in these essential areas as well.
the next few years, as the Philippine economy emerges from recession and begins
to recognize its enormous potential, further Paris Club and private bank debt reschedulings may be necessary. This temporary adjustment
period will give the Philippine Government the opportunity it needs to
reestablish a solid basis for economic growth in the 1990's and beyond. The program
for sustained growth proposed by Secretary [of the Treasury] Baker last year
calls for the sort of structural economic reform now being initiated by the Philippines. Reforms such as these
may be eligible for the lending support of the multilateral development banks.
U.S. Economic and Military
What is your government doing to assist the Philippines beyond the
bases-related $900 million ``best efforts'' pledge?
The President. The aid package my
administration has developed to assist the new Philippine Government in its
economic recovery efforts includes and goes beyond the aid committed under the
bases-related ``best efforts'' pledge. The major elements of the package
include: an additional grant of $100 million in Economic Support Funds (ESF)
during fiscal year 1986, recently appropriated by the Congress and which will
soon be made available; the provision of $200 million of previous year ESF as
direct support to the Philippine Government budget; conversion of $100 million
of development assistance from loan to grant; and a supplemental grant of $50
million of military assistance in fiscal year 1986. The United States is increasing
``people-to-people'' assistance, such as feeding programs for infants and
school children and health programs to reduce infant and child mortality. These
programs are generally administered by private voluntary organizations.
U.S. Trade and Investment
A growing number of Filipino businessmen want to see more trade and investment
and less aid from the United States. Do you support this
point of view?
The President. We are working hard to
increase both trade with and investment in the Philippines. We believe that these
are the real keys to the restoration of economic growth. In June Secretary [of
State] Shultz gave a speech in New York to a group of U.S. business and banking
executives in which he described the real potential for economic recovery in
the Philippines and encouraged U.S. investors to participate. Businessmen, of
course, will make their decisions on the basis of their own calculations of the
Philippines economic potential. We
believe the Philippine economy is on the road to recovery. We also believe
businessmen will make a similar assessment.
Do you consider former President Marcos a threat to the Philippine democratic
recovery, or are there other threats you perceive?
The President. The activities of the
supporters of former President Marcos are not a real threat to the stability of
the Philippine Government. The new Government enjoys the widespread support of
the Filipino people and of the major sectors of Philippine society. Filipinos
are now working at building new, democratically elected political institutions.
The supporters of former President Marcos can best serve their country by
working to strengthen Philippine democracy by participating in a constructive
manner in the process of institution building. Clearly, the real threat to
Philippine democracy is the threat posed by the Communist insurgency.
The questions and answers were released by the Office of the Press Secretary on