Key Marcos Foe Pledges Drive on Corruption

Times Staff Writer

Former Sen. Salvador Laurel, a top opposition contender, said Wednesday that if he were elected president of the Philippines in a proposed special election, he would "send to jail all those who have committed graft and corruption."

Asked specifically whether he would bring charges against President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Laurel declared: "We will give Mr. Marcos what he has not given the people of the Philippines--justice and due process of law."

However, Laurel told a news conference that "we are not fighting for blood."

Returns From U.S. Tour

The 57-year-old former senator returned Wednesday from a speaking tour of the United States. Among those welcoming him at the airport here was Corazon Aquino, 52, the widow of Benigno S. Aquino Jr. and Laurel's primary challenger for the opposition nomination.

Laurel said he is confident the opposition National Unification Committee will make a decision on a single opposition candidate soon. "I will abide by the results of that conference," Laurel said. But he declined to say specifically whether he would accept the vice presidential nomination on a ticket headed by Aquino, who has yet to declare herself a candidate.

Another leading opposition spokesman, member of Parliament Homobono Adaza, said he expects the choice to be made within 10 days.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary committee handling the bill authorizing the election took no action Wednesday. Committee Chairman Leonardo B. Perez, who is political affairs minister in Marcos' Cabinet, declared "there is no urgency to the point of railroading a bill."

Elections Due Jan. 17

Marcos proposed early elections for president and vice president for Jan. 17 with Dec. 2 the deadline for filing candidacies. The delay in committee action on the bill was interpreted by some observers as reflecting differences between Marcos's ruling New Society Movement, popularly known as the KBL Party, and the opposition on elements of the plan as well as intra-party debate within the KBL.

Laurel, for instance, said his United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO) favors holding the presidential elections simultaneously with local balloting scheduled for next May. Opposition leaders have called for a date later than January for the snap election and numerous campaign safeguards to prevent fraud.

In an interview with NBC News on Wednesday, Marcos said that he will not allow an outside commission to monitor the fairness of the presidential vote.

"I think you should understand we're a sovereign country and we don't invite strangers into our internal affairs," he said.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
57°