Philippine Vice President Salvador Laurel said today he wants President Reagan to sweep away "cobwebs of doubt" that linger among Filipinos about whether the United States fully recognizes the legitimacy of the new government of Corazon Aquino.
Although other U.S. officials have reassured him of the administration's support for the Aquino government, Laurel said he wanted to hear "straight from the horse's mouth" that Reagan does not recognize former president Ferdinand Marcos as leader of the Philippines. Laurel is to meet with Reagan Thursday.
Laurel's comments today followed a telephone call between Reagan and Marcos last weekend in Hawaii during which Marcos said he wanted to return to active participation in Philippine politics and Reagan told him that Aquino is now the recognized leader of the Manila government.
After meeting Secretary of State George P. Shultz this afternoon, Laurel said he was told "there is no question" of Reagan's support for Aquino and, "Mr. Marcos should forget all plans to return to power."
But Laurel said "lingering doubts" about Reagan's recognition of the Aquino government could be traced to a comment Reagan made earlier this year after the Philippine election saying both Marocs and the Aquino-led opposition had committed fraud. Reagan later modified the statement, but Laurel said it left "cobwebs of doubt in the minds of many" that he hoped Reagan would resolve "once and for all" in their meeting Thursday.
A senior State Department official brushed aside Laurel's concern.
"I don't think there are any cobwebs of doubt left, if there were any," about the U.S. commitment to Aquino, he said.
Laurel, attending a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers here, also said today the $150 million in additional aid the Reagan administration has proposed sending to the Philippines is not enough.
"We need much, much more than that," he said, without being specific. "If you want to help a friend, this is the time to help the Philippines."
Laurel also appealed for more help from the United States in tracking down the property that Marcos is alleged to have taken from the Philippines.
"We really would appreciate more help from the U.S. government," he said. The administration has said the matter is now up to the courts.
In an interview with the Cable News Network, Laurel complained today that Marcos is trying to stir up loyalists in the Philippines seeking to destabilize the Aquino government. Marcos has been calling friends in the Philippines frequently, and last weekend he urged a rally of supporters to stage peaceful demonstrations against Aquino.
"His loyalist friends in Manila are trying to create some problems," Laurel said. "They are not succeeding, but they are creating trouble and it's not helping us at all."
Later, at a news conference, Laurel indicated that he is looking for a signal of Reagan's personal support for the Aquino government. After the telephone call to Marcos last weekend, the White House had issued a statement reaffirming the administration's backing of Aquino. Reagan called Aquino before he called Marcos.
"If the message that Mr. Reagan transmitted is that Mr. Marcos should stop hoping to make a comeback in politics, hoping to follow [Gen. Douglas] MacArthur's famous statement, 'I shall return,' if the message was exactly that, 'Don't expect to come back politically,' then I don't think there's anything to worry about," Laurel said.
Laurel, who also serves as foreign minister, said the Aquino government wants Marcos to remain in Hawaii for the time being but that he would be welcome to return to his home province in the Philippines, without a political role, once new elections have been held.