The Philippines' new president, Corazon Aquino, moving quickly after Ferdinand Marcos fled the country last night, today appointed a Cabinet dominated by moderates and called for reconciliation with people who had supported Marcos.
"It's now time to heal the wounds, to forget the past, and certainly we need everyone's help in rebuilding our country," she said at a press conference this afternoon. She said she would not seek to extradite Marcos from the United States, where he has been offered asylum.
Aquino also said she would seek a cease-fire with Communist insurgents operating in the countryside.
Vice President Salvador Laurel was named foreign minister. He is expected to become prime minister as well, pending approval by the National Assembly.
Gen. Fidel Ramos, one of the revolt's leaders, announced a reorganization of the military command structure. Getting new faces is considered crucial to revitalizing the military's fight against the insurgents.
The press conference, Aquino's first as the undisputed president of the Philippines, reversed much of the informality that prevailed during her campaign. Aides required that questions be submitted in writing and soldiers with automatic rifles stood guard to the side.
Aquino called for patience in dealing with the country's grave problems. "You had Marcos for 20 years," she said. "It hasn't even been 24 hours since Marcos left. Believe me, we are doing our very best."
She made her pleas as Manila began returning to normal after a four-day military revolt that ended with Marcos, his family and close aides fleeing in U.S. helicopters that landed on the grounds of Malacanang presidential palace last night. Today, street barricades were cleared away and banks resumed business.
Aquino expressed satisfaction with U.S. assistance in Marcos' departure but said it had not changed her views on the U.S. naval and air force facilities here. She said: "I am sticking to my original position and will respect the military base agreement until 1991 and I am keeping my options open."
Aquino said today she will hold office in the presidential palace but not live there.
"I would like to lead by example and in these very difficult times, it is not fitting for the leader of an impoverished nation to live in extravagance," she said.
Her entry there has been delayed by cleanup work and the removal of mines and explosives found stored on the grounds, officials said.
Aquino expressed confidence that she will be able to work with the National Assembly, which is dominated by Marcos' New Society Movement.
Although Aquino came to power with the aid of a military revolt, she has tried along the way to provide a legal justification for her acts under the Philippine constitution.
Before being sworn in by a Supreme Court justice yesterday, while Marcos was still in the country, she insisted that supporters first gather signatures from National Assembly members on a resolution voiding the body's earlier proclamation of Marcos as the winner, according to opposition assemblyman Homobono A. Adaza.
Sixty-two signatures were obtained, Adaza said. He argued that this represented a majority of the 183-seat body, because the opposition was estimating that 100 of the government party members were out of the country.
Aquino said today the assembly will meet again soon to proclaim formally her legitimacy. "We want it even more so since there was that little proclamation for Mr. Marcos," she said.
Aquino's government is not planning to call new general elections for the assembly or local government offices. Instead, it plans to achieve a working majority in the assembly with new people placed in appointive seats and with defections from Marcos' side. Seats of ruling party members who fled with him will be put up for special election, Adaza said.
At the palace today, thousands of sightseers trouped in through cast-iron gates to create a picnic atmosphere inside, in contrast to the spree of looting that occurred last night after Marcos' departure.
Sixteen members of Marcos' Cabinet this morning held separate meetings with Aquino and her defense minister, Juan Ponce Enrile, and promised to work with them for a smooth transition of government. Resistance from loyalist troops appeared to have died out.
Working in her campaign headquarters in Manila's Makati district, Aquino received messages of congratulations from the governments of the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and other countries. The Asia Development Bank, one of the near-bankrupt country's major creditors, voiced full support for Aquino's government.
U.S. Ambassador Stephen Bosworth expressed optimism for Washington's future ties. "We expect to have the same close relationship with the Philippines that we've always had," he told a television interviewer.
Aquino's Cabinet is dominated by moderate opposition politicians and business leaders who worked in her two-month campaign for president and risked ruin and personal harm in her struggle for power.
Mining company president Jaime Ongpin, her top economic adviser during the campaign, was named finance minister, and Jose Concepcion Jr., a businessman who headed a citizen poll-watching group that attempted to defend her from electoral cheating by Marcos, became minister of trade and industry.
Senior opposition figures in her cabinet include Assemblyman Ramon Mitra, agriculture minister; former senator Jovito Salonga, head of a Presidential Commission on Good Government; lawyer Joker Arroyo, executive secretary; and Assemblyman Aquilino Pimentel, minister of local governments.
Several were jailed by Marcos in the 1970s. But other appointees, were associated with Marcos at that time. Natural Resources Minister Ernesto Maceda is a former Marcos executive secretary and Luis Villafuerte, head of a Presidential Commission on Government Reorganization, once served on Marcos' Cabinet as minister of trade.
Aquino did not appoint a minister of human settlements, indicating she intends to abolish the post. Marcos' powerful wife, Imelda, held that job and Aquino has said it led to vast squandering of resources.
Seated beside Aquino, Enrile said the government was preparing a list of political prisoners for release. Later, Aquino ordered the immediate release of 33 political prisoners, and six of them had been freed by noon from Basgong Diwa detention camp outside Manila. According to the New York-based Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, about 600 persons are in jail here for political offenses.
Aquino said her government would look into allegations that Marcos had amassed hidden wealth during his 20 years in power and indicated it would reopen the investigation into the 1983 assassination of her husband, opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr.
But she said that "our first concern will be to help improve the lot of the poor, the unemployed and the underemployed."
The country is gripped by an economic and debt crisis that has driven gross national product down by 10 percent in the past two years.
Aquino's economic program remains vague, but aides say it will include strengthening of agriculture and deregulation. Finance Minister Ongpin said this evening that the government might renounce loans that were used for "illicit" purposes, an apparent reference to alleged embezzlement of borrowed money by Marcos' business associates.
In Manila, meanwhile, traffic flow made a swift recovery as barricades of tires, broken concrete and freshly cut trees, erected during Marcos' final hours, were cleared from the streets.
Prices soared in heavy trading at the Manila Stock Exchange, where an opposition boycott of Marcos-affiliated companies and the crisis in general had driven prices down considerably. Stock of the San Miguel Corp., a boycott target, soared by 40 percent, the maximum allowable in a single day under rules of the exchange.
In a letter to Aquino, exchange Chairman Felipe U. Yap and President Robert Coyiuto Jr. called it "a clear signal of the investors' confidence in your new adminstration." Keeping such confidence is considered key to restoring the economy's vitality.