Radio Address to the
Nation on Philippine-United States Relations and the Situation in Central America
November 7, 1987
week, news from the Philippines reminded us all of both
the friendship of the Filipino people and their struggles. The gesture of
friendship came when Philippine President Corazon Aquino
paid a visit to Clark Air Base outside of Manila to attend a memorial
service for American airmen slain by terrorists. I have told President Aquino how much all Americans appreciate her
thoughtfulness. These murders bring home to all of us the troubles and threats
that the new Philippine democracy faces.
months ago, we applauded as President Corazon Aquino's
peaceful revolution began moving the Philippines back toward popular
rule. Since then, President Aquino has been more
successful than many believed was possible. Within this last year-and-a-half,
she has led a successful campaign to ratify a new, more democratic
constitution, and she has overseen the first free congressional elections in 15
years -- elections in which an overwhelming majority of the people
participated. Now she's working with the newly elected Congress to solve that
nation's serious economic problems.
Aquino believes, as I do, that free enterprise is the
most powerful engine of economic progress known to humanity. She has
inaugurated an ambitious reform program that has ended a sharp recession and
boosted annual economic growth to 5 percent. She has begun to reform the tax
system, dismantle monopolies, privatize or eliminate inefficient
government-owned industries, and reduce barriers to international trade and investment.
These are all reasons for optimism, but there are reasons for concern as well.
single most serious threat to the survival of democratic government in the Philippines remains the Communist
insurgency. As a result of the restoration of democracy, that insurgency has
lost political momentum; still it continues, becoming more violent as it
becomes more desperate. But even as she confronts the threat of Communist
guerrillas, President Aquino must also rebuild the
Philippine Armed Forces. She has had to reassert the principle of civilian
supremacy over the military, while at the same time resolve honest differences
over how best to defeat the Communist insurgency. Not everyone in the military
has been happy about the new civilian role. President Aquino
has faced five attempted coups since taking office.
made it clear to all concerned that Filipino democracy and President Aquino have America's full support. We hope
all elements in the Philippine Government, both civilian and military, will work
together to find common ground. Division between government and its armed
forces can only help the Communist insurgents, who are bent on destruction of
freedom and democracy in the Philippines.
countries are as strategically important to the United States as the Philippines, and we have a moral
obligation to help all democracies succeed. That's why I have recently
underscored to American business leaders that the United States is committed to
Philippine economic recovery. I told them that we believe there are great
opportunities for American investors in the Philippines, and I reminded them
that, while building the economy, our men and women of enterprise will also be
helping to build a stable and democratic future for that nation.
also asked Congress to help. I've requested substantial economic and military
assistance for the Philippines. While we'd like to do
more, budgetary constraints may limit what we can do, but this is one area
where we can't afford to cut corners. The people of the Philippines are counting on us. One
way Congress could do a lot is to reform our sugar program, as I proposed
earlier this year. We will work with President Aquino
to build a safer home for democracy in the Philippines. Most of the
responsibility belongs to the people of the Philippines, but we can and will
lend a hand.
let me turn for a moment to another area of the world where brave men and women
are working for democracy. I mean Central America. This week the Guatemala peace accord went into
effect. The world is waiting to see if the Sandinistas in Nicaragua keep the promises they
made to the other Central American Governments when they signed that agreement.
Will they fulfill both the letter and spirit of the agreement? In particular,
will they institute the steps necessary for the democratization of Nicaragua? Will they allow
freedom to prosper as the agreements demand? Will they begin the process of
national reconciliation? And will they take full steps, not partial steps? The United States will be watching to see
if the Sandinistas were sincere when they signed the Guatemala accord or if their
signature was just one more propaganda ploy.
next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.
President spoke at 12:06 p.m. from Camp David, MD.