Politicians close to deposed president Ferdinand Marcos who had disappeared in the chaotic final days of his rule began resurfacing here today in response to President Corazon Aquino's renewed call for reconciliation.
But the new government also acted to block other allies of Marcos -- many of whom have fled abroad in the past few days -- from removing any ill-gotten gains from the country.
The emerging two-pronged policy toward Marcos' rich and powerful friends -- referred to here as "the cronies" -- is thought to be designed to help smooth the transfer of power and aid an economic recovery.
Aquino told a news conference that she would not seek the extradition of Marcos for misdeeds in office. "I have said that I can be magnanimous in victory and in fact would like to show by example that the sooner we can forget our hurts, then the easier it will be for our country to start rebuilding from the ruins left us," Aquino said.
Still, Aquino's newly named finance minister, Jaime Ongpin, said both the government and the people wanted the recovery of ill-gotten gains "because the magnitudes really are mind-boggling."
Ongpin said estimates of the profits from corruption by Marcos and his cronies ran as high as $10 billion, and worries that these profits were being smuggled out of the country were fueled by police confiscation of arms and more than $6 million worth of bank notes from allies of Marcos.
In a meeting with Aquino, Marcos' prime minister, Cesar Virata, and other ministers who had kept a low profile during the past several days offered their help in the transfer of power.
Marcos' running mate in the election, legislator Arturo Tolentino, responded to Aquino's calls for reconciliation, expressing his willingness to work with her government. He appeared on television to explain that he had hidden during the collapse of Marcos' government because "there are times when you simply have to keep quiet because you want to use more your brain than your tongue."
After meeting with about a dozen former Cabinet ministers, Aquino commended them for their cooperation, singling out former deputy prime minister Jose Rono, who had returned to Manila earlier in the day after fleeing to the provinces during the uncertainty of Marcos' final hours.
While Marcos' aides have been unavailable in recent days, many of their relatives and secretaries have said they have had no problems with anti-Marcos citizens, who might have been expected to vent their anger against his former associates.
As Marcos fell Tuesday night, and with Rono having left Manila, Rono's family clearly had been nervous, although the private subdivision of Manila in which they live is well-guarded.
The family had refused to admit visitors, simply saying that Rono was gone for an indeterminate period. By today, Rono's secretary said, everyone was much more relaxed: "There's been no trouble from anyone," she said.
Aquino's new military chief of staff, Gen. Fidel Ramos, earlier had warned the population against any harassment or vengeance against Marcos' loyalists.
Today, he announced that the government would begin surveillance of some "cronies," both to help forestall any possible reprisals by angry citizens and to monitor such "suspicious acts" as the sudden transfer of financial assets or the burning of records.
To Marcos' friends he said, "If your conscience is clear, you should not panic at all."
The government ordered the impoundment of funds from the state-run casino operations, after police discovered a van carrying 130 million pesos -- about $6.5 million -- in freshly printed notes they said were destined for delivery to Commodore Alfredo Romualdez, identified as a brother-in-law of Marcos.
A former associate of Marcos said the sister of former first lady Imelda Marcos, Concita Romualdez Yap, had been stopped from making an immediate withdrawal of 17 million pesos -- almost $850,000 -- from a time deposit account.
Marcos' closest and wealthiest friends fled the country as the regime which had protected them collapsed this week. Businessman Eduardo M. Cojuanco Jr., reputed to be the wealthiest Filipino, flew to Clark Air Base with four family members to join Marcos in his escape on U.S. Air Force planes.
Cojuanco is owner of the United Coconut Planters' Bank and a food and beverage processing empire and maintained what opponents described as a virtual "private army" to help him enforce his economic domination of Tarlac Province.
Cojuanco had been one of the main targets of the consumers' boycott launched earlier this month by Aquino -- who is his first cousin.
Marcos' brother-in-law and ambassador to Washington, Benjamin Romualdez, fled to the United States just before Marcos' own departure, along with four family members and Arturo Pacificador, a pro-Marcos legislator accused of murdering several political opponents.
A former associate of Marcos said today that the group slipped onto a Continental-Air Micronesia flight to Guam by having the manager of Manila International Airport telephone the control tower and order the taxiing plane diverted to a hangar, under the pretext of a bomb threat having been received.
Police said Wednesday they had seized 40 Israeli-made Galil submachine guns plus other weapons and ammunition from a house owned by Romualdez in Quezon City, adjacent to Manila.
Observers suggested that Aquino's decision not to seek the extradition of Marcos and his cronies would anger Marcos' opponents on the left who have given Aquino at least tacit support.
A spokesman for the Moslem Moro National Liberation Front, based in the southern Philippines, said his group was already upset by Aquino's links with former Marcos figures, and would withdraw its past support to her unless she fired Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Gen. Ramos -- the men who led the military rebellion against Marcos.
A columnist for the daily newspaper Malaya, Jake Macasaet, echoed a popular argument, writing that "those responsible for the rape of the economy need not die by musketry or rot in jail, but the leaders of the new government owe it to themselves and to the entire nation to make sure that they restore the wealth of this country to its previous state." CAPTION: Picture 1, Corazon Aquino . . . to be "magnanimous in victory"; Picture 2, Manila police unload 13 boxes containing newly printed 100 peso bills said to be valued at $6.5 million. UPI/Reuter