Philippine President Corazon Aquino and other senior officials told Secretary of State George P. Shultz today that currently planned U.S. assistance to their government, while appreciated, "falls far short" of what is needed.
Aquino made her statement in a 45-minute meeting with Shultz as Vice President and Foreign Minister Salvador Laurel disclosed a "rough estimate" by Philippine officials that about $2 billion in new U.S. aid is needed.
"We are a country in need right now," said Laurel in an interview. "We are a two-month-old government, a child government which is faced with the task of feeding, clothing, housing and protecting 54 million people . . . The child government needs all the help it can get from friends."
The Reagan administration has asked Congress for an additional $100 million in economic aid and $50 million in military aid to help the new government deal with massive debts and economic problems left by deposed president Ferdinand Marcos. Even this amount of extra aid is in doubt because of the extreme budgetary stringency symbolized by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings bill. Additional funds seem to be out of the question.
The $150 million, subject to congressional approval, is in addition to $240 million in economic and military aid that has already been committed by Congress for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
State Department officials traveling with Shultz said the $2 billion Philippine request was first broached during meetings between Laurel and top U.S. officials, including President Reagan and Shultz, in Bali, Indonesia, April 30. Rather than concentrate on massive aid flows, which U.S. officials consider impractical, the State Department is emphasizing self-help and private initiative as the answer to Manila's economic woes.
Shultz, in a news conference at the end of what he called "an especially interesting and affirmative day" of meetings here, said "the United States will do its part" in assisting the Philippines and listed 10 projects and initiatives, none of which involves vast amounts of money.
Because of the U.S. budget problem, "there are obvious limitations on what we can do" with direct aid, he said.
In his meeting with Aquino, Shultz compared the young Philippine democracy, "flushed with the recent victory of a revolution and saddled with debts," with the United States after the American Revolution, according to the Philippine spokesman, Information Minister Teodoro Locsin Jr.
Shultz praised Aquino's decision in recent days to honor her country's $26 billion external debt, the spokesman said, but added that "one need not go to the extent of cutting one's throat."
Aquino responded, the spokesman said, by saying that is why she is seeking more liberal repayment terms from the country's creditors.
Shultz said the contentious question of permission for Marcos to move from the United States did not come up in his meetings with Aquino and other officials. He said the basic posture of the administration is that it wishes to help Marcos leave the United States because he does not wish to stay, and "we don't want people who don't wish to be there."
A Cabinet meeting Wednesday resulted in unanimous agreement that a Philippine passport should not be granted to Marcos at the present time, according to Laurel.
The question of whether the Aquino government will withdraw its objections to Marcos' emigration to a third country, as requested by the United States, has been under discussion in the Aquino Cabinet, but no decision has been reported.
Shultz said, "I don't think it is helpful" for Marcos to continue making telephone calls to political rallies of his supporters here, but added that under U.S. law Marcos was free to do so.