Philippine President Corazon Aquino has named Emmanuel Pelaez, a former vice president and foreign secretary in the early 1960s, to be ambassador to Washington, the ambassador-designate said in an interview today. An announcement of his appointment is expected shortly.
Pelaez, 70, was a former minister of state in the government of deposed president Ferdinand Marcos. He was one of the first Marcos associates to endorse Aquino late last year for the Feb. 7 presidential election.
As ambassador to Washington, one of his first tasks will be to "refurbish the Philippines' image," he said. "There seems to be a new awareness of each other."
On the key issue of the future of the two U.S. military bases in the Philippines, Pelaez said he endorsed Aquino's position to honor a bases agreement until it expires in 1991 but to keep options open after that. He indicated that the eventual decision may be influenced by the bases' role for the region.
"We are going to take a larger view than national interests," he said. "Of course, national interests are paramount, but we will consult other countries." Aquino has said she intends to confer with other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the main noncommunist grouping in the region, which generally supports the presence of U.S. bases as a bulwark against growing Soviet naval power.
President Aquino, meanwhile, swore in most members of her new Cabinet in ceremonies at the Malacanang presidential palace and announced the appointment of a prominent human rights lawyer, Augusto Sanchez, as labor minister.
Quoting an unidentified Cabinet member, United Press International reported that Aquino was likely to dissolve the National Assembly in the next few days to proclaim a "revolutionary government" that would hold power while the constitution is rewritten. Presidential spokesman Rene Saguisag said the matter "is still under study."
One of the Cabinet members sworn in, Vice President and Foreign Minister Salvador Laurel, announced that the government had canceled the passports of Marcos, nine family members and 79 other Filipinos who accompanied him to Hawaii. Laurel said the move was ordered by Aquino.
In other developments, Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.) today proposed a five-point U.S. aid program for the Philippines, including help in recovering wealth invested abroad by Marcos and his associates.
Speaking to an audience at the University of the Philippines amid some anti-American heckling about "U.S. intervention" and the presence of the U.S. bases, Solarz called last week's overthrow of Marcos "one of the political miracles of our time."
While repeatedly praising the largely peaceful overthrow of Marcos, Solarz warned that it was "not a panacea for the problems of the Philippines," chief among them a growing Communist insurgency.
Solarz drew applause when he said the United States "should do everything possible to help the Philippine government recover the resources the Marcoses and their cronies have brought to the United States." He said the Marcoses' real estate in the New York City area alone, estimated at $350 million, was worth twice the annual U.S. economic aid to the Philippines.