The latest Philippine coup attempt attributed to loyalists of deposed president Ferdinand Marcos generated new pressure from Congress yesterday for more forceful U.S. action to halt plotting by Marcos from his exile in Honolulu.
Marcos, who took refuge in Hawaii after being overthrown in a peaceful "people's power" revolution in February 1986, was warned by the Reagan administration seven weeks ago against interfering in Philippine politics and placed under travel restrictions limiting him to the island of Oahu. The action was taken after the House Foreign Affairs Committee released tape recordings of Marcos plotting to purchase arms and mount a military operation to overthrow his successor, President Corazon Aquino.
The State Department said late yesterday it is "confident" that Aquino will surmount the latest coup attempt, and repeated that "the United States strongly supports the Aquino government." A department spokesman would not say whether independent information links Marcos to the coup attempt but declared that Marcos "is well aware of our support for the Aquino government and our strong views against any efforts to destabilize it."
Rep. Robert G. Torricelli (D-N.J.), who wrote letters to the administration in January and March asking that Marcos be warned against plotting against Aquino from U.S. soil, said yesterday the Justice Department should investigate the latest events and bring criminal charges if Marcos has violated the U.S. Neutrality Act by his involvement. Torricelli said he had previously been informed by the State Department that Marcos is being "too closely monitored" to be involved in more coup attempts.
"Congress' patience wore out a long time ago. This may finally exhaust the patience of the administration," said Torricelli.
Torricelli, who returned only last week from a four-day visit to the Philippines, said that "given the desperate economic situation there and the difficulties of fighting the insurgency, the Aquino government cannot stand continuous coup attempts. This one may have failed, but some other one may succeed."
Marcos, who was granted admission to the United States under the government's "parole" authority, was granted another year of U.S. residency by the Immigration and Naturalization Service just Wednesday, according to an INS spokesman. The official said Marcos, his family and entourage were permitted to stay another year under a U.S. "national interest" provision of the immigration laws.
Rep. Chester G. Atkins (D-Mass.), who last June called for placing Marcos in an INS detention center, repeated the demand yesterday. Atkins said the administration is "either incredibly naive about Marcos or there is some sinister hold he has over the U.S. government." At a minimum, said Atkins, Marcos' military advisers and other support systems for coup activities should be cut off from him at once.