The Reagan administration is planning a procession of high-visibility visits to Manila by top officials and early injections of economic and military aid to support the fledgling government of Philippine President Corazon Aquino, State Department officials said yesterday.
The administration also has begun to offer "friendly advice" to the regime, including the strong suggestion that Aquino steer clear of describing it as a "revolutionary government" and a cautionary message that Aquino's widespread mandate could be damaged by delay in returning to elections as the source of legitimacy, officials said.
The U.S. view that a declaration of "revolutionary government" would produce an adverse reaction in Congress and elsewhere was conveyed to Aquino by Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, according to the sources. Aquino reportedly responded that she had already decided to avoid such terminology. She did avoid it Tuesday in proclaiming "a provisional constitution" that gives her sweeping powers until a new charter can be drafted and approved by plebiscite.
Aquino said in announcing interim arrangments that she hopes for a return to legislative elections under a new constitution within a year. The U.S. administration did not ask that this timetable be speeded up, officials said, but did caution that delays in her proposed schedule could damage Aquino's mandate at home and abroad.
The latter message was delivered by Assistant Secretary of State Gaston Sigur, whose visit to Manila this week will be followed by trips by top administration officials. The other visitors will include Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is to arrive Sunday; Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, who arrives April 9; and Secretary of State George P. Shultz, who may travel to Manila in early May following the Tokyo Economic Summit.
An alternate plan for a Shultz visit is for the secretary of state to head a U.S. delegation to a possible ceremonial inauguration of Aquino in early June, which is under consideration in Manila. Shultz is also expected to visit Manila at the end of June for the annual foreign ministers' meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes the Philippines.
There is no plan for a meeting of Aquino and President Reagan, who have not spoken. Although Reagan publicly described the changeover in the Philippines as a "triumph of democracy," he is depicted by administration sources as having mixed feelings about his role in the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos, whom he considered a friend.
Several officials said that overall the administration is cautiously optimistic Aquino's government can deal with the massive problems left behind by Marcos. Having the deposed leader in Hawaii is "an irritant," said a U.S. official, but not a serious impediment to close Washington-Manila relations.
Despite budgetary difficulties under the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law, the administration has decided to ask Congress after the Easter recess for an additional $100 million in economic aid and $50 million in military aid in fiscal 1986 to demonstrate U.S. support and help meet urgent Filipino needs, officials said.
These sums, in addition to the existing 1986 aid program of $235 million, were recommended by an administration team headed by Peter McPherson, administrator of the U.S. Agency of International Development, that recently visited Manila. Administration fiscal officials are combing government accounts for cuts that can be submitted to Congress to balance any additional outlays brought about by the Philippine aid program.
Officials said that $40 million to $50 million in U.S. assistance previously approved by Congress but not dispersed also may be quickly provided to help Aquino.
Japan, which is the largest single aid supplier to the Philippines, has agreed to convene a Tokyo meeting this spring of several other aid-giving nations, including the United States, and international financial institutions to work on a program of new assistance to Manila. Japan has indicated that it is prepared to step up aid considerably to help the new Aquino government, U.S. sources said.