President Ferdinand Marcos today warned obliquely against congressional moves to cut off U.S. aid to his embattled government, denouncing "modern-day imperialists" and saying Filipinos would "pay with their blood" to resist foreign intervention.
The statement was Marcos' harshest against alleged foreign meddling in the political crisis caused by the disputed Feb. 7 election.
Apparently stung by growing international criticism that he rigged the election, Marcos also announced a diplomatic offensive to buttress his claim as the legitimate head of state.
But opposition leader Corazon Aquino said she expected her nonviolent protests to topple Marcos' government within three months and warned that the population could resort to violence if Marcos does not go during that period. The statement, her first reference to a time frame for her postelection civil disobedience drive, came after she met for the second time with U.S. presidential envoy Philip Habib.
Aquino aides said Habib asked about expectations for protests and strikes planned to begin next week. They said Aquino smiled and told Habib, "Wait and see -- that is best. Let events speak for themselves."
The aides said she cautioned Habib during the 35-minute meeting that Filipinos are beginning to believe that Washington is more concerned with maintaining U.S. bases here than in Philippine democracy. Partisans on each side have accused the United States of supporting the other in an effort to preserve its hold on the bases.
Marcos, without naming any foreign country specifically, today said: "There are those in foreign lands who for their own reasons have . . . impugned the integrity of our recent presidential elections, and have even called for foreign intervention in our national affairs." In a press release, Marcos said, "We deplore . . . the acts of ungracious electoral losers and of modern-day imperialists that evidently think that a nation like the Philippines would willingly submit to their dictates and wishes."
"I would like to remind them that Filipinos have many times before paid with their blood, their lives and their honor to preserve their freedom and national integrity, and so will they again," Marcos said.
Marcos' statement followed warnings by his top officials that any blockage in U.S. aid to the government might affect an agreement governing U.S. rights to the strategically important military bases here. Marcos' government traditionally has regarded U.S. military and economic aid as obligatory "rent" paid on the bases, which remain under Philippine sovereignty. Prime Minister Cesar Virata and others suggested this week that an aid cutoff would represent a breach of the bases agreement.
U.S. officials argue that agreements covering the bases do not set "rent," but only require the administration to makes it "best effort" to obtain congressional approval of agreed-upon levels of aid for the Philippines.
The dispute has long been a sore point with Marcos. In the presidential campaign, Marcos pledged he would reopen negotiations with the United States to define more precisely each side's obligations.
In her meeting with Habib, Aquino insisted that she would continue her mobilization against Marcos, saying, "It is time to take the presidency that the people gave at the polls." Aquino's running mate, Salvador Laurel, said Habib had completed his assessment of the election and that the "assessment of 'what's next' . . . is what he's attending to now."
In a separate development, Bayan, an umbrella group of leftist organizations, announced that it is joining Aquino's civil disobedience campaign, scheduling protest rallies near the U.S. bases and strikes for next week. "We must mobilize our people . . . in protest on the very day Mr. Marcos is to be installed. We must strongly expose this fake inauguration of a fake president," a Bayan statement said.
Bayan leader Lorenzo Tanada said the organization recognized Aquino as the president of the Philippines.
Marcos announced he is dispatching Labor Minister Blas Ople and Ambassador Alejandro Melchor to the United States, plus other envoys to Europe, Japan and the Vatican to defend his continued tenure in the face of mounting international criticism. Signs of Marcos' continuing diplomatic isolation continued today when neighboring Indonesia announced that it will not offer Marcos the customary congratulations on his reelection because "the situation is not sufficiently clear to warrant such a statement."
Correspondent William Branigin contributed to this report.