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Head of Group That Opposes Marcos Resigns

United Press International

The head of a coalition of Philippine opposition parties resigned Sunday in a dispute with a top presidential contender--dealing a blow to efforts to unseat President Ferdinand E. Marcos in upcoming elections.

Former Supreme Court Justice Cecila Munoz-Palma said that she was stepping down as chairman of the National Unification Council because Salvador Laurel, a possible challenger to Marcos in elections next year, accused her of being a “dictator.”

Munoz-Palma and Laurel were among those politicians attending a meeting Friday of four national and eight regional opposition parties. Laurel, “his face livid with anger, pointed an accusing finger at me and at the top of his voice charged that I was acting like a dictator,” Munoz-Palma said Sunday.

Foes Called Hindrance

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She charged that Laurel’s political coalition was blocking efforts to “achieve . . . unity and restore democracy in our country.”

“I can no longer be part of a masquerade of unity . . . to fool the people in their expectations that personal interests and ambitions will be sacrificed and surrendered,” she said in her letter of resignation.

Laurel was not immediately available for comment.

Opposition sources said Laurel, the son of the country’s president during the Japanese occupation in World War II, has feared that the National Unification Council was turning against him in favor of Corazon Aquino, widow of slain opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino Jr., to challenge the 68-year-old Marcos.

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Many opposition members regard Corazon Aquino as the only candidate who can unite them in the election campaign against Marcos, who earlier this month called early elections amid criticism from the United States and domestic opponents for his handling of a communist insurgency and an economic crisis.

Debate to Resume Today

Parliament is to resume debate today on a bill calling for an election in February.

In another development, Marcos summoned top military officials, including the suspended armed forces chief, Gen. Fabian Ver, to a conference today on a reorganization of the armed forces.

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Ver is expected to be acquitted Wednesday on charges of complicity in the slaying of Aquino in August, 1983. Marcos has said Ver would be “automatically reinstated” if he is found not guilty.


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