18 Philippine Judges Offer to Resign; Others Hold Out

Associated Press

Justices of the Philippines' second-highest court, the Court of Appeals, submitted their resignations today in response to President Corazon Aquino's request that all appointees of Ferdinand E. Marcos step down, the justice minister said.

Court of Appeals Justice Ramon Gaviola met with Aquino to submit 18 resignations from the appellate court, and assured her that all 38 of the justices will relinquish their posts, Justice Minister Neptali Gonzales said.

Some resistance to Aquino's request has been reported among Philippine Supreme Court justices, but Gonzales said some retired judges have been sent to persuade the 12 high court justices to step down.

Earlier, the official Philippine News Agency said at least five of the Supreme Court's 12 members had quit. But presidential spokesman Rene Saguisag said no resignations have been received from the Supreme Court.

Says It's Necessary

Gonzales said it is necessary to clean out the judiciary because it has been stacked with Marcos supporters. Marcos fled the country Feb. 26 after a fraud-riddled election touched off a military-backed rebellion that toppled him from power.

"One of the demands of the people in this 'people-power' revolution is to change or clean out the government," he said.

Gonzales also said that as a last resort, the new government will consider simply declaring a revolutionary stance and ordering all posts vacated.

"That is the ultimate option, which we would exercise only when our backs are to the wall," he said.

Limited by Constitution

He said, however, the government deemed itself limited by the Philippine constitution's Bill of Rights, which is similar to the U.S. Bill of Rights, and by international human rights agreements.

Meanwhile today, the head of a commission charged with recovering any wealth illegally accumulated by deposed President Ferdinand E. Marcos said up to $10 billion may be missing from the treasury and enterprises controlled by Marcos' associates and relatives.

Jovito R. Salonga, chairman of a Commission on Good Government established by Aquino, told a news conference that "maybe $5 billion to $10 billion" in assets was missing.

By comparison, the Philippine budget in 1985 was only about $3.3 billion. Salonga did not elaborate on what assets are missing or what is believed to have happened to them.

Marcos' Explanation

As president, Marcos' annual salary was about $5,000. In denying charges of corruption, he always said whatever wealth he had came from his lucrative law practice before becoming president.

Also today, hundreds of supporters of Vice Mayor Johnny Wilson of the Manila financial district of Makati demonstrated against the Aquino government's appointment of Jejomar Binay as "officer in charge" after the death of Makati Mayor Nemesio Yabut.

The protest was one of several against Aquino's moves to oust Marcos supporters from both local and national government across the islands. The efforts have also caused rifts among her own supporters, primarily because of disagreements over who should get the posts.

U.S. seizes Marcos funds, Page 10.

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