Marcos Drops Charges Against Returning Opposition Leader

From Times Wire Services

The government Thursday dropped subversion charges against opposition leader Jovito Salonga four days before his scheduled return from voluntary exile in the United States.

Justice Minister Estelito Mendoza said he acted on instructions from President Ferdinand E. Marcos when he ordered a state prosecutor to file the necessary dismissal motion before a suburban Manila judge.

Marcos said Tuesday that he wanted to give Salonga, 62, a former senator and leader of a faction of the opposition Liberal Party, a chance "to pursue his political aspirations to the fullest."

The charges against Salonga, which carry a maximum penalty of death, arose from a series of bombings in Manila in 1980 that the military contended were part of a plot financed by U.S.-based Filipino opposition leaders to kill Marcos and take over the government.

Salonga's colleagues had feared he would be arrested or assassinated upon his return Monday. Opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino Jr. was killed on returning here from the United States in August, 1983.

Salonga, often mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, has said he is returning to reunite his party and help the opposition prepare for elections for local officials in 1986 and for president in 1987.

Arriving Thursday in Honolulu with his wife en route here from Los Angeles, Salonga said he thinks Marcos is no longer able to help the Philippines.

"President Reagan has got to change his view of Marcos," he said. "He thinks the only alternative to Marcos is the Communists, and I am not a Communist. Marcos is in no position to do anything anymore for the Philippines."

Salonga said he will fly to Hong Kong on Saturday before returning here Monday.

The termination of the case against Salonga came a day after Assistant Secretary of State Paul D. Wolfowitz handed Marcos a letter from Reagan encouraging Marcos to work with "all Filipinos with moderate political views" to restore democracy in this former U.S. colony.

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