In their first joint public statement on the growing political unrest in the Philippines, five Southeast Asian countries yesterday issued an unusual public appeal to President Ferdinand Marcos to avoid violence in "a critical situation . . . which portends bloodshed and civil war."
The sentiment was echoed in world capitals as a crisis precipitated by the mutiny of two top military leaders continued into its second day.
The call by five members of the Association of Southeast Nations, known as ASEAN, represented an unusual display of unity and a clear distancing from the Philippines, the organization's sixth member, according to diplomatic sources in Washington. The statement was issued by the foreign offices of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
"The crisis can be resolved without widespread carnage and political turmoil," the statement said. It called on "all Filipino leaders" to "join efforts to pave the way for a peaceful solution to the crisis."
In the past, the member countries have been careful to avoid public statements that could be interpreted as interfering in Philippine internal affairs or taking sides, diplomatic sources said.
The appeal to avoid violence, the sources said, would be welcomed in the Philippines by the forces of former defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos, acting armed forces chief of staff, because Marcos has superior military power.
In Rome, about 1,000 Filipinos, many carrying yellow banners symbolic of the opposition led by Corazon Aquino, gathered in St. Peter's Square to hear Pope John Paul's weekly prayer service, in which he called for "a peaceful and just solution, without violence and without bloodshed."
In Tokyo, the Japanese Foreign Ministry advised Japanese to avoid going to the Philippines, and Kyodo News Service quoted Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe as saying that he hoped for a solution "without an armed clash."
New Zealand Prime Minister David Lange said early today that Marcos should leave the country to avoid bloodshed.
Australia recalled its ambassador to the Philippines for "urgent discussions" and advised its travelers to delay trips there until the situation was resolved.