Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos went on the offensive against his critics yesterday, firmly rejecting charges of civil liberties violations in his country. He told members of Congress that his government had enhanced human rights by eliminating chaos and anarchy inspired by leftist elements.
Marcos, on his first state visit to the United States in 16 years, told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that when he proclaimed martial law in 1972 "there was no such thing as human rights . . . . There were 200 private armies in the Philippines."
U.S. officials have spoken of "a trend toward normalization" since Marcos ended martial-law rule in January, 1981, and President Reagan, after meeting with Marcos Thursday, said the Philippines had made "great progress" in the area of rights.
Members of Congress have taken a different view, however, and several -- including three members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, before which Marcos also appeared yesterday -- protested his U.S. visit.
A letter to President Reagan from five senators said the trip could be misinterpreted "as a sign that your administration condones the repression of the Marcos government . . . . "
The State Department's 1981 human rights report and a recent Amnesty International survey detail allegations of continuing questionable civil liberties practices in the Philippines, laying many of them to its army, which has been expanded threefold in recent years to combat an ongoing insurgency.
Marcos' comments yesterday on the human rights issue were the first of his visit, during which both he and U.S. officials, including Reagan, have emphasized the security relationship between the two countries.
The United States and the Philippines have agreed to reopen negotiations next April on the status of two major U.S. bases in the Philippines, Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base.
Marcos said yesterday that he could "see no problem that cannot be solved by negotiation."
Marcos is to meet with Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger today.
Security was extraordinarily tight at the Capitol for Marcos' visit yesterday, with police outnumbering the anti-Marcos demonstrators who have followed him on his Washington itinerary. The massive protests predicted by Marcos' foes have not materialized, however.
Asked by Rep. George W. Crockett Jr. (D-Mich.) about the necessity for such heavy security and whether it reflected on his record at home, Marcos retorted: "I think you remember what happened to President Reagan," referring to last year's assassination attempt. "If there had been guards like this at that time, that tragedy would not have happened."
"One crazy nut and you have had it," he said.
Marcos also answered sharply when pressed by Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.) on the recent Amnesty International report alleging continuing rights abuses, saying: "Amnesty International is not exactly the most accurate judge."
Appearing later at the National Press Club, Marcos again defended his civil liberties record, saying the Philippines' court and legislative systems protect against corruption and rights abuses.
He charged that "misstatements" about the Philippines had resulted in "much confusion and misimpressions about our country," and then went into a lengthy description of the country's national and local government and its legal system.
He said Reagan had approached the issue of human rights in the Philippines with "the openness and fairness which we expected of America and the Americans."
"It is not fair to accuse the Philippines of any violation of human rights when there has been no violation," Marcos said. "If there has been any violation, we punish those who have violated."