MANILA, JUNE 16 -- With a Corazon Aquino doll pinned to his lapel, Secretary of State George P. Shultz today officially turned over $176 million in U.S. aid to the Philippines and declared in a luncheon toast, "Every man is a Filipino!"
Shultz's three-day visit -- his third to the Philippines since President Aquino came to power last year -- was designed primarily to show continued American support for Aquino's efforts to restore democratic institutions and battle a tenacious communist insurgency. Shultz met privately with Aquino, with military officials and with newly elected members of the Philippine House and Senate.
In his toast to Aquino, given in the vast dining hall of Malacanang Palace, Shultz said, "This is a revolution that is still under way." He praised Aquino's efforts at rebuilding the country's political institutions and reshaping a tattered economy that is now growing at a rate of just over 5 percent.
Despite the cordiality of the visit, however, potentially serious differences still linger over the status of two American military facilities, Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Station.
Many Filipinos, including some of the new legislators, consider American aid as "rent" for use of the facilities and would like to see a specific amount guaranteed in writing when negotiations for a new lease on the bases begin next year. Some of the new members of Congress said later that they raised the aid vs. rent question with Shultz during their morning session.
Under the Philippines' new U.S.-style constitution, the Senate must ratify any new agreement to keep the American bases here. The leading candidate for president of the Senate is Jovito Salonga, a stalwart of the old Liberal Party and an outspoken nationalist who has often been critical of the bases. Salonga was the top vote-getter in the May 11 election.
Shultz repeated the longstanding American position: The bases are here for the mutual benefit of both countries, and any U.S. aid to the Philippines must not be considered a quid pro quo. Sen.-elect Edgardo Angara, who attended the meeting with Shultz, said the secretary expressed concern over the tone of the congressmen's remarks about the bases.
Later, at a press conference for Filipino and American journalists, Shultz was asked whether the United States would accept making the next bases lease "a pure rental agreement."
"As far as the idea is concerned, . . . that the concept should be one of rent, . . . I don't think that's a good concept," Shultz said.
He leaves early Wednesday for Singapore where he will meet with foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.