President Corazon Aquino accused Ferdinand Marcos today of using his "ill-gotten" wealth to foment disturbances here. The charge followed a clash yesterday between police and Marcos' supporters, who tried to march on the presidential palace.
At least 16 persons were reported injured when police used tear gas, truncheons and water cannon to disperse as many as 5,000 demonstrators, some of whom threw rocks and bottles as they surged past barbed-wire barricades on a bridge about 500 yards from the Malacanang presidential palace.
Presidential aides said Aquino "felt the tear gas" as she was cooking in her new home, a two-story mansion near the palace. She had moved into the house only hours before for security reasons to avoid commuting from her modest home in a Manila suburb.
Manila Police Superintendent Brig. Gen. Alfredo Lim said authorities had uncovered a plot by backers of Marcos to attack the palace and that the marchers therefore had to be dispersed. He said police also discovered 18 homemade gasoline bombs hidden in the Luneta Park, where the pro-Marcos group held a peaceful rally yesterday before marching toward the presidential palace.
Police said the bottle bombs were intended for use Thursday during a government-sponsored independence day rally at which Aquino is scheduled to speak.
Of the demonstrators injured, as many as six were stabbed by unidentified men on entering a Moslem neighborhood to escape the tear gas and water cannon. Police have not reported any deaths. In a statement issued by her office today, Aquino said she was "anguished" by the disturbance.
"I truly deplore the way in which former president Marcos continues to foment trouble in this ravaged country, using his enormous wealth," she said. She said it was clear that "the loyalist troubles are caused by the deposed president's urgings to his followers here" by telephone and other means. "It is also clear that ill-gotten money buys demonstrators."
A policy of "maximum restraint" would be maintained, Aquino said, but the government "cannot allow freedom to be abused in the name of a misguided pursuit of the right of free assembly."
Spokesmen for the demonstrators denied that there was any plan to attack Malacanang. They said Marcos, who has been living in exile in Honolulu since he was deposed in February, was informed of the dispersal by telephone and had urged followers to continue demonstrating while avoiding "bloody confrontations" with police.
Oliver Lozano, a pro-Marcos leader, said in an interview that "over 1 million" had gathered for the Luneta Park rally -- other estimates put the number at 10,000 to 20,000 -- and that "we were made to suffer fatal tear gas and water cannon with chemicals." He said that "over 100" had been killed by Aquino's "partisans" during demonstrations since April 7, but that news of this had been suppressed because "they kill and take away the bodies of the victims."
"Our march to Freedom Park was perfectly legal," Lozano said. He conceded that the marchers had no permit to march there but insisted none should have been required.
Lozano, who is frequently interviewed on television as a serious spokesman for Marcos' followers and who says he regularly talks to Marcos by telephone, asserted that many victims yesterday were thrown into the Pasig River, which flows by the Malacanang palace.
He also charged that while Moslems had been blamed for the stabbings of several demonstrators yesterday (he said at least one had died), he had found out that the real perpetrators were followers of Agapito Aquino, the president's brother-in-law.