Philippine President Corazon Aquino is expected to declare formally a provisional government with broad emergency powers Tuesday to accelerate the dismantling of governmental structures inherited from deposed president Ferdinand Marcos.
The state-run television reported tonight that measures to be announced by Aquino would include dissolution of the 200-seat National Assembly and replacement of the current 1973 constitution, which Marcos pushed through under martial law.
The Communist Party of the Philippines, the party's military wing and a political front organization, meanwhile, announced in separate statements that they were ready to talk to the Aquino administration about a cease-fire with government troops. It was the first formal response to her call for a cease-fire and negotiations.
Their statements came as military officials reported that more than 1,000 Communist "cadres" gave themselves up on the central Philippine island of Negros and turned in 20 weapons in the first "mass surrender" since Aquino came to power.
There was no immediate confirmation of the surrender report. Under Marcos, military officers often staged fake surrenders to advance the government's political objectives or their own interests.
Military officials said those who surrendered were members of recruiting and propaganda teams rather than guerrilla fighters.
On the cease-fire issue, one of the statements was issued by the party and the general staff of its guerrilla organization, the New People's Army, and the other was issued by the National Democratic Front.
But the front, which essentially is run by the Communist Party, made it clear that the guerrillas rejected Aquino's demand that they give up their weapons.
The talk of negotiations came as leftists tried, apparently unsuccessfully so far, to join 22,000 strikers barricading two major U.S. military bases and several smaller facilities in a three-day-old dispute over pay and benefits.
The U.S. commander at Subic Bay Naval Base appealed for calm today after a dozen persons -- six U.S. servicemen and six Filipinos -- were injured in clashes outside the base's main gate Friday night and Saturday. U.S. authorities said they were investigating charges that U.S. Marines were involved in attacks in which two Filipinos were stabbed and later hospitalized.
The strikers used picket lines and roadblocks today to stop Filipinos from entering Subic Bay and Clark Air Base, but U.S. servicemen and their dependents were permitted in and out of Clark.
U.S. servicemen were ordered to stay clear of gates to the bases to avoid violence. A spokesman at Subic Bay said military operations were not being affected.
Aquino confirmed in an interview with United Press International today that she intends to proclaim a provisional government, but she declined to discuss details.
The issue of whether to declare some form of revolutionary government has been debated for weeks within the new administration. Proponents have insisted that such a step is needed to dispense with the "dictatorial" machinery left behind by Marcos when he fled the country a month ago, while opponents have argued that the measure might tar the new government as a dictatorship.
The government-run television reported that Aquino would sign a "proclamation" declaring what it termed a "revolutionary government" for a term of six months. It said the proclamation would give Aquino "nearly absolute powers to revamp the legislative and judicial branches of government." Specifically, it said, the National Assembly would be abolished and the new government's legality declared a "political question" outside the jurisdiction of the judiciary.
A spokesman for Aquino termed any advance report of her scheduled televised speech at 4 p.m. Tuesday "speculative." Government sources said the word "revolutionary" was unlikely to be used officially to describe the new administration.
In their statement on a cease-fire with the Aquino government forces, the Communist Party and guerrilla general staff praised her for restoring civil liberties, freeing more than 500 political prisoners and taking steps to "dismantle the fascist structures" left by Marcos. It said the rebels "sincerely acknowledge" Aquino's popular support.
"With just, sincere and prudent moves of the concerned parties, a negotiated cease-fire is possible on a nationwide scale," said the statement, which was dated March 18 but released today. It added, however, that "U.S. imperialism and reactionaries in the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are prodding her Aquino to revert to the rabid counterinsurgency campaigns that discredited the overthrown regime."
The statement said, "This and similar conditions stand in the way of a meaningful cease-fire and peace."
A statement issued today by the National Democratic Front expressed "readiness" to engage in dialogue with Aquino on an eventual cease-fire. But it added, "Objective conditions at the present time do not permit the surrender of the people's right to bear arms in the defense of their revolutionary gains in the past 17 years."