Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos threatened today to arrest businessmen who have taken part in antigovernment demonstrations.
"There will be men assigned to track you down, and we will meet you in court," Marcos declared in a televised speech. "Do not test the force and strength of the government."
He warned that street demonstrations could expect to be met with full government force. "We have been holding back the use of our military capability," he said. "It is now necessary to review all the rules. The policy of maximum tolerance has been discarded."
In a toughly worded statement read from his palace office, Marcos also criticized Roman Catholic schools, where, he said, "hatred" is being taught in the classrooms.
It was Marcos' harshest speech of the current crisis, and it singled out two groups--businessmen and Catholic school teachers--that previously had not been subjects of his accusations.
It appeared to be intended to frighten business executives and office workers who in the past week have become increasingly involved in the movement to force Marcos to resign.
Marcos cited a confrontation Tuesday in Makati, metropolitan Manila's commercial and financial district, where a pro-Marcos rally was driven from the street by a larger anti-Marcos crowd.
"We have pictures of everything that happened; there are videotapes where the faces of men are very clear," Marcos said. "We will look for these men.
"Whether they are members of big institutions like the Ayala Foundation, the Bank of the Philippine Islands,. . . or the Development Bank of the Philippines, Security Bank and other banks, you can rest assured we will look for you."
The Ayala Foundation is headed by Enrique Zobel, one of the richest and most powerful businessmen in the Philippines.
Commenting on Marcos' speech tonight, Cardinal Jaime Sin, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Manila, told reporters, "I feel there are some threats, but maybe the president was tired."
In a statement released as he left for a month of talks in Rome on church business, Sin said he was distressed that the government, instead of trying to eliminate causes of unrest here, "is resorting to threats and other acts of intimidation."
Sin also defended church teachers, saying Marcos' charge "is not true."
He said pupils in current events classes are merely being taught about the "real situation" in the country.
He did not elaborate.
Since the assassination of opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr. on Aug. 21, many business and professional people have been drawn into the anti-Marcos campaigns, ending the generally easy relationship the president has enjoyed with the community.
Only last Wednesday, Marcos had seemed inclined to attempt to placate the business organizations.
In a speech discussing economic problems, he promised to get rid of some government corporations and to open others to private equity.
The business community has long bridled at government corporations, which many charge were set up to enrich some of the president's friends.
The banks and foundation cited by Marcos today are among the country's most powerful.
Zobel, who has opposed Marcos' friends in business matters before and is particularly influential, has refused requests for interviews. Last week, however, Marcos said Zobel had informed him that he had nothing to do with the demonstrations in Makati.
Makati, which is Manila's Wall Street, has been the scene of several protests.
One influential businessman who now opposes Marcos privately said last week that many of his colleagues want to speak out but that they are also afraid because of the Aquino assassination.
The man, whose wife and children attended one rally, said, "What's different now is that so many previously unpolitical ones now feel compelled to manifest their disapproval. But a lot of them won't speak because the government just threw the rule book out of the window. I had always assumed Marcos to be a rational man."
Until the past few days, authorities had permitted peaceful demonstrations and used force only after they were attacked during a major confrontation Wednesday that left 10 persons dead and scores injured. But on Friday tear gas was used to break up two peaceful rallies, including one in Makati.
Marcos said any protest without a city permit will be dispersed by peaceful means and that violence would be met by police with force.
The government yesterday revived a martial-law practice of setting up roadblocks and checking vehicles. Marcos said today it was necessary to prevent communist guerrillas and their sympathizers from entering Manila to foment trouble.
Marcos appeared vaguely sympathetic to a proposal set forth by Sin to form a "national council of reconciliation" composed of religous, government and business representatives. Marcos called it an "advisory council" and said he was not against it but warned that he is "against any ambitious private group trying to exercise political power without the mandate of the people."
It was not clear whether he was specifically accepting Sin's plan. Before leaving for Rome, Sin said that "there was a little bit of hope" that Marcos had accepted the idea.