MANILA, JULY 20 -- Rescue efforts following Monday's devastating earthquake have enhanced, at least for the short term, the image of the United States while lessening the stability of the government of President Corazon Aquino, say Philippine and Western analysts.

The quake appears to have given Aquino some respite from mounting political violence and battles with a quarrelsome Congress. But criticism of her handling of the vast and costly recovery effort may overshadow her remaining two years in office.

Rebel soldiers who led a December coup attempt against Aquino have quieted their destabilization campaign in the aftermath of the earthquake, and Aquino's outspoken political opponents have largely been silent, as the nation appears to have closed ranks for the tasks of searching for survivors and burying the dead.

The rebels, in a statement issued today, declared a halt to all anti-government activities "during this time of national tragedy" and called on the government to suspend its operations against them.

Even the Communist insurgents seem to have implemented a unilateral cease-fire in their guerrilla war while the nation picks up the pieces.

Some analysts who monitor the insurgency here noted that just last week U.S. servicemen appeared to be under threat of Communist attack if they ventured from their bases. But since the earthquake, hundreds of U.S. Marines and Navy engineers have ventured to isolated areas to help with the relief effort. The Communists, concerned with their public image, were unlikely to attack U.S. soldiers trying to save injured Filipinos, the analysts said.

However, most analysts said they believe that Aquino's respite from these myriad troubles will be only brief and that once the immediate crisis subsides, politics -- and problems -- will resume as usual. Already, the government has faced criticism, albeit muted, because the relief effort here has appeared slow and uncoordinated, and the coming months will severely test the government's ability to manage the international emergency aid pouring in and to deliver services to the hard-hit areas.

Aquino, in her first televised statement on the disaster, today defended her administration's response to the quake.

"Let us not blame others," she said. "Let us stop making snide remarks. What we need now is to help each other."

"In the short term, certainly, this {disaster} will pull things together," said a Western diplomat here. "The {military} rebels will lie low for a while, and we won't have bombs going off around Manila. Even the Communists are likely to keep quiet. But it won't take long for the story to move off the front pages, and for things to revert back to the way they were.

"There'll be a breathing space," he said, "but whether it has any long-term effect in bringing people together, I doubt it." For example, the diplomat said, once relief aid begins to arrive, squabbles with the congress are likely to erupt over how the funds should be allocated. Some legislators are seeking to raise funds for earthquake relief by withholding payments on the country's foreign debt -- something Aquino has adamantly opposed.

As the dimensions of this tragedy become clearer, with daily reports of more casualties in remote towns or under landslides on mountain highways, the earthquake and Aquino's success or failure in the reconstruction seem likely to become some of the issues by which her final two years in office will be judged.

By all initial indications, the task of rebuilding will be monumental.

The infrastructure of Luzon, the island where the earthquake struck, has been devastated. Bridges have collapsed, roads have cracked and dams are damaged. Some schools and other government buildings may have to be declared unsafe. Some small towns may have to be declared uninhabitable, and the residents may need to be relocated.

Aquino will have help in the reconstruction as offers of assistance have poured in from around the world, including the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the European Community.

The Asian Development Bank has offered a comprehensive assistance program for reconstruction, consisting of technical experts to assess the extent of the damage, and loans with no interest rate and a seven-year grace period to rebuild infrastructure. A bank spokesman said the program would provide the Philippines with a minimum of $100 million.

Yet one of the most frequent criticisms of the Aquino government has been its inability to channel resources to the provinces efficiently and deliver basic goods and services to the needy.

In the past, a large amount of foreign aid has been mired in bureaucracy in Manila, while rural areas complain that they still lack roads, electricity and running water.

"One of the impressions left by the earthquake in its aftermath was the weakness of the government to immediately take control of an emergency situation," said today's editorial in the Manila Chronicle, a normally pro-government daily newspaper.

By contrast, U.S. troops reacted quickly and efficiently to the disaster, which has pointed up yet another problem facing Aquino as she enters into negotiations on the future of U.S. military facilities here.

On one hand, Aquino is under pressure from an increasingly vocal nationalist bloc to terminate the leases for the U.S. bases, which are criticized here as a vestige of this country's colonial past. On the other hand, the earthquake -- coming only one month before the negotiations are expected to begin -- has served as a reminder of the Philippines' dependence on the United States, particularly in times of crisis.

"The fact remains that the Americans were the first to arrive in Baguio," which was devastated by the quake, "and they spelled the difference between life and death for victims in the Christian College collapse in Cabanatuan City," wrote columnist Luis D. Beltran in the Manila Standard.

U.S. officials appear conscious that the highly visible American role in the rescue effort may rekindle accusations that this is a government that cannot function without U.S. help.

"The better the United States does, the worse the Philippine government looks," said one Western diplomat. "This {earthquake relief effort} has been good for the United States, but it's bad for the Aquino government."

"It's inevitable that the coming in of the Americans would lead people to see the inadequacy of the government's own efforts," said Prof. Felipe Miranda, a political science professor and well-known critic of the bases. "I don't think this will hurt the bases at all," he said. "As to whether it can generate positive attitudes for the Americans, I don't think it can help but do that."