U.S. policy toward the Philippines is to use diplomatic and economic tools to encourage a peaceful and democratic succession to the weakening rule of President Ferdinand E. Marcos, according to an official paper made public by a Washington lobby group.
The assassination of opposition leader Benigno Aquino "destroyed most of the political credibility the 19-year-old Marcos government enjoyed and exacerbated a shaky financial situation," the paper said. In this situation, it continued, Marcos "is part of the problem" but "also necessarily part of the solution" because reforms can be undertaken only with his assistance or acquiescence.
U.S. support is "one of Marcos' largest remaining strengths," the paper said.
"An overriding consideration should be to avoid getting ourselves caught between the slow erosion of Marcos' authoritarian control and the still fragile revitalization of democratic institutions, being made hostage to Marcos' political fortunes, being saddled with ultimate responsibility for winning the insurgency or tagged with the success or failure of individuals in the moderate leadership," the document said.
The U.S. document, drafted in the State Department Nov. 2, appears to have been prepared for recent interagency meetings arising from increasing concern about political and economic stability in the Pacific nation closely allied to the United States.
Administration actions and statements regarding the Philippines in the past four months have closely followed those set out in the paper, which was obtained by the Philippine Support Committee, a research and lobby group, and its co-chairman, Dr. Walden Bello.
"We need to be able to work with [Marcos] and to try to influence him through a well-orchestrated policy of incentives and disincentives to set the stage for peaceful and eventual transition to a successor government whenever that takes place," the document said. "Marcos, for his part, will try to use us to remain in power indefinitely."
Leverage mentioned as available to the administration -- and which has been employed in the past several months -- included public statements (such as various press statements and a full-scale Philippine policy speech Feb. 22 by Assistant Secretary of State Paul D. Wolfowitz), a letter from President Reagan stating U.S. concerns and policies (delivered to Marcos by Wolfowitz in Manila Jan. 16), and upgraded U.S. assistance proposals (sent to Congress in early February).
Immediate U.S. goals, according to the paper, do not include removal of Marcos from power or destabilization of his government. Rather, the goals were listed as "revitalization of democratic institutions, dismantling 'crony' capitalism and allowing the market to respond to free-market forces, and restoring professional, apolitical leadership in the Philippine military to deal with the growing communist insurgency."
Though prospects for surmounting the immediate economic crisis are good, the paper said, medium-term economic prospects are "quite gloomy."
On the military side, no immediate crisis was seen. But the paper warned that, in the absence of political and economic stability, "continued steady progress toward an insurgent communist takeover is a distinct possibility in the mid-to-long term, and possibly sooner." U.S. esteem among the Philippine public could be lost if the United States were seen to be supporting Marcos to the exclusion of democratic alternatives, the paper said.
Among the means discussed for influencing Marcos were special economic and military briefings by U.S. teams.
Should Marcos refuse to undertake or block reforms desired by the United States, or should he agree but fail to follow through, the paper recommends that the administration "discreetly publicize" its views to increase internal pressure on Marcos, and send tangible "signals" of noncooperation by such tactics as delaying disbursement of U.S. funds and voting against the Philippines in multilateral institutions.