With Ferdinand Marcos a distant voice in Honolulu, the unlikely coalition of politicians, priests, soldiers and businessmen that engineered his overthrow two months ago is beginning to show signs of strain.
Many analysts here dismiss them as inevitable growing pains of a new government. But their appearance raises questions of whether the group's members can maintain unity in the long run without Marcos around to force it on them.
In recent weeks, several members of President Corazon Aquino's Cabinet have sniped repeatedly at each other in public over a range of policy matters. It has delighted those loyal to Marcos, who maintain that Aquino lacks the strength to lead a government.
Military men have grumbled over the freeing of top Communist leaders and suggestions by left-leaning Cabinet members that soldiers suspected of human rights violations in counterinsurgency operations be tried, instead of being offered amnesty.
Even friends of Aquino are heard to say these days that the bickering, to which Manila newspapers are giving prominent play, has damaged her standing somewhat with parts of the public. However, her ability to govern is generally not seen to have suffered in a major way.
"She remains, for the foreseeable future, the only person with a national political base in this country," said a western diplomat here.
Aquino has said the government is making steady progress in correcting abuses from Marcos' 20-year rule. But she also has pleaded for patience.
"It has only been two months," she said in a television interview broadcast last week. "Give us time and we do promise you that we will give you a better government, certainly."
When Marcos called the Feb. 7 presidential election that eventually led to his downfall, he apparently gambled that the opposition, following tradition, would never manage to unite behind a single ticket.
But Aquino and Salvador Laurel, presidential nominee of the UNIDO opposition party and now her vice president, came together only hours before the filing deadline. Business and church leaders, human rights activists and citizens' groups clustered around them to provide money, campaign labor and moral support.
Victory did not come until they were joined by the armed forces, whose four-day, largely bloodless revolt forced Marcos to leave the country. With the exception of the church, all of these groups are now represented in the Cabinet.
Once in power, Aquino raised the hackles of some key supporters by abolishing the National Assembly, which was dominated by Marcos' New Society Movement (known by its Tagalog language initials, KBL), and suspending the constitution. Calling the assembly a "cancer," she said she wanted to start with a clean slate.
But her move also put close to 60 anti-Marcos legislators out of jobs for which they had risked life and limb in 1984 elections. And, it made legalists in her camp feel uneasy at stepping into what is being called "revolutionary government." Some said shutting Marcos' supporters out completely will court instability.
Some members of Laurel's party were sufficiently angered that they considered attending a rebel session of the assembly that was convened by members of Marcos' party recently to defy Aquino. They backed off at the last minute, however, following an appeal from Aquino.
In another move, Aquino has set about weeding out people viewed as supporters of Marcos among the country's close to 2,000 provincial governors, mayors and local assembly members. Some have resisted by force, erecting barricades in their offices and calling their dismissal illegal.
Her local governments minister, Aquilino Pimentel, has become perhaps the most vilified figure in her Cabinet, accused of ignoring local popularity that many of the incumbents enjoyed despite their support for Marcos.
"There are good KBL, as there are bad individuals associated with the Aquino government," said Homobono Adaza, an anti-Marcos politician who lost his job in the assembly and has emerged as Pimentel's most vociferous critic.
Vice President Laurel has crossed swords with Pimentel in public, too. Laurel's party, UNIDO, accused the minister of favoring the political party he heads, known as PDP-Laban, in selections and freezing out UNIDO in an attempt to gain an upper hand in future elections.
Meanwhile, Aquino's economic team, headed by Finance Minister Jaime Ongpin, a former mining company president, has tangled with leftist members of the Cabinet. While Ongpin has been arguing that what the reeling Philippine economy needs most is investor confidence, others have talked of repudiating part of the Philippine foreign debt. Labor Minister Augusto Sanchez has voiced strong support for unions, worrying businessmen.
Parts of the military are still miffed that their advice against releasing four Communist leaders was ignored. Their attention now is going to a still inconclusive discussion of whether to bring charges against soldiers suspected of human rights abuses. They contend that if Aquino gives Communists amnesty, soldiers should get the same.
Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile was Marcos' defense minister for many years and is distrusted by human rights activists in the Aquino camp, despite his role as a leader of the military revolt that brought in Aquino.
Some of the friction has personal origins. Key members of the government, such as Pimentel, Agriculture Minister Ramon Mitra and Good Government Commission chief Jovito Salonga were political prisoners during Marcos' government, with the military acting as their jailers.
When Salonga talked recently of investigating everyone's wealth, his words were taken as a challenge to Enrile, who is regarded by his critics as having enriched himself during the Marcos years. When Human Rights Commission chief Jose Diokno talked of going after soldiers, Enrile was again seen as a target.
People close to Aquino said she has remarked that all of this helps to "clear the air" and focus thinking. Still, some predict that she will shortly step in firmly to ensure that future arguments are carried out in private.
"Let us not underestimate the moral force of this woman," said Felix Bautista, editor of the pro-Aquino weekly newspaper Veritas.
Government officials said they are well on the way to major changes.
"We've been able to start the process of getting rid of the structures of dictatorship," said Rene Saguisag, Aquino's spokesman.
But they conceded that the material quality of life in the country has not changed significantly so far.
Other steps taken:
*Appointment of a new Supreme Court.
*Initiation of a far-reaching investigation of Marcos' and his associates' wealth that so far has succeeded in freezing property and bank accounts in the Philippines and around the world, pending an official sorting out of ownership.
*A reorganization of the military that has already replaced almost the entire command.
*Overtures for negotiations with Communist insurgents and with Moslem rebels in the south.
*The starting of proceedings to select a commission to write a new constitution. It is supposed to be put to a referendum this fall, with local elections to follow either late this year or early next year.
*The start of negotiation of a new financial package from the United States, the World Bank and private lenders to put together the country's shattered finances.