Rep. Stephen J. Solarz, an outspoken critic of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, pledged support today to President Corazon Aquino in recovering billions of dollars the ousted president allegedly plundered from the Philippines treasury.
Solarz met for an hour with Aquino and other officials of the new government. The New York Democrat told reporters afterward that he asked how the United States "can be most helpful," but he did not reveal her reply.
In another development today, the government news agency reported an aborted plot by Marcos loyalists to commit arson, bombings and murders during the last days of his rule, to be used as a pretext for declaring martial law.
Marcos and his entourage, including Gen. Fabian C. Ver, fled to Hawaii on U.S. Air Force planes Feb. 26.
The official Philippine News Agency quoted military intelligence officials it did not identify in reporting the alleged terrorism plans by Marcos loyalists.
It said the plotters did not have time to carry out "Operation Everlasting" because of the military revolt that precipitated Marcos' departure.
Solarz said he believes Congress could be persuaded to increase economic and military aid to the Philippines because Americans were impressed by Aquino's popular support and the peaceful revolution that brought her to power.
"The determination as to what those needs are and how they can be met needs to be made in Manila rather than in Washington," said Solarz, who is chairman of the House subcommittee on Asian affairs and has been a critic of Marcos for years.
He said he discussed Marcos' "hidden wealth" with Aquino and former Sen. Jovito Salonga, chairman of a commission to find ways of recovering it, and promised "our complete cooperation in the effort to facilitate the recovery of these resources."
Salonga has estimated that Marcos, his relatives and cronies stole from $5 billion to $10 billion in public funds during his two decades as a $5,600-a-year president.