Thousands of Filipinos showered opposition candidate Corazon Aquino with yellow confetti on a campaign swing Friday through the home region of President Ferdinand E. Marcos, and Marcos criticized her for saying she would welcome some Communists into her government.
As election activities heated up in the final weeks before the Feb. 7 special presidential election, an 80-member brass band marched through Dagupan's main street ahead of Aquino and her running mate, Salvador Laurel, who waved from an open truck at the jampacked town plaza.
Tens of thousands more lined Dagupan streets, many chanting, "Cory, Doy," the candidates' nicknames.
Shredded newspapers and yellow confetti rained down on the campaign parade as it moved through the northern city. Some marchers waved yellow flags with the image of Aquino's assassinated husband, former Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr.
The color yellow, which has come to symbolize homecoming, has been used by Marcos' opponents since 1983, when Aquino returned from self-exile in the United States only to be gunned down as he left the jetliner at Manila airport. His widow's supporters on the campaign trail frequently burst into song with "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree," a tune about a young man returning to his home.
The campaign motorcade stopped at seven cities Friday and visited four others Thursday in an area where Marcos predicts that he will get up to 90% of the vote.
At a press conference Thursday in Baguio, Aquino responded to charges by Marcos that the country would fall to communism if she wins the election. A Communist-led insurgency is carrying on a guerrilla campaign against government forces in much of the Philippines.
"I would be the last person in the world to be a Communist," Aquino said. "I have never been a Communist, and I do not intend to be a Communist."
'Need Everybody's Help'
But she added, "So long as the Communists renounce all forms of violence, we welcome them into the government. Certainly, we need everybody's help."
Marcos, asked about that by a television interviewer Friday, asked: "Since when does a tiger renounce its stripes? If they renounce violence, either they are not Communists or they are adopting a tactical position acceptable to our society."
He said Aquino's statement was "more or less" an admission that she is supported by Communist rebels.
"Therefore, later on, if she should by accident win the election, the Communists will probably be part of the administration, and that we cannot allow in the Philippines," Marcos said.
Marcos has accused Aquino of accepting U.S. support and of being a tool of the Communists. She denies both charges.
Opposition leaders outlined their positions Friday in a 23-point program signed by Aquino, Laurel and other political figures.
The program pledged to respect the agreement under which the United States maintains air and naval bases in the Philippines until it expires in 1991, but after the deadline: "We shall keep all our options open."
It also said that if elected, the opposition will amend the constitution to ensure an adequate system of checks and balances in government, guarantee press freedom, eliminate graft and corruption and free all political prisoners.
It also pledged to "abolish agricultural, industrial and commercial monopolies, trusts and combinations which are prejudicial to public interest."
The Philippine News Agency reported Friday that armed forces chief Gen. Fabian C. Ver ordered the confinement to their barracks of a colonel and 43 other soldiers allegedly involved in the killing of 20 anti-government demonstrators.
The report said Ver, who was acquitted with 25 other men last year of murder charges in the Aquino assassination, ordered the measure during a visit to a regional military headquarters in the central Philippine city of Iloilo.
Among those ordered confined were the provincial commander of the Philippine constabulary in Negros Oriental province, where 20 demonstrators were killed last September when constabulary troopers and militiamen fired on a crowd of 5,000 protesters in the town of Escalante.
Meanwhile, the Philippine economy declined in 1985 for the second year in a row, with the gross national product shrinking by 4% to $4.7 billion, according to official figures published Friday.