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Washington Must Let Her ‘Call the Shots,’ Nunn Says : Aquino Gets ‘Strong, Unequivocal’ U.S. Support

Associated Press

The Administration and key congressional leaders Sunday reiterated “strong and unequivocal” support for Philippine President Corazon Aquino and expressed satisfaction that reported coup plans had failed to materialize.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) said Aquino “is the only unifying factor in Filipino politics” adding, “Mrs. Aquino is receiving assurances every day from the United States government of 100% support.”

Lugar has helped shape U.S. policy toward the Philippines since Aquino took power from Ferdinand E. Marcos in February.

“We are pleased that this reported coup attempt failed,” State Department spokeswoman Anita Stockman said as news came from Manila that Aquino was receiving the resignations of her Cabinet members. The president’s request for resignations followed a night in which soldiers loyal to her took over radio and television facilities as coup rumors swept the capital.

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“We reiterate our strong and unequivocal support for President Aquino and her administration. We earnestly hope her appeal of Nov. 23 for all sectors of Philippine society to unite in protecting democracy and reconstructing their country meets with success,” Stockman said.

The reported coup plans were apparently quashed as Aquino’s chief of staff, Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, on Sunday ordered military commanders to disregard all orders except those issued by him or his deputies and to defend the government against any plot to oust Aquino.

In Honolulu, where the deposed president now lives, Marcos declined to comment on the developments in his homeland, his spokesman, Guillermo Trinidad, said.

Military ‘Has to Reorganize’

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Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Sunday that in the wake of the turmoil, the Philippine military “has to be reorganized. The military has to gain the confidence of the people.” Nunn spoke in an interview on NBC-TV’s “Meet the Press.”

He also expressed support for Aquino’s actions during the recent test of her authority and said the United States must leave her to “call the shots. I don’t think we ought to impose our own solutions on Mrs. Aquino.”

Lugar said the resignations of the Philippine Cabinet members give Aquino a chance to start fresh to build a stronger government.

“President Aquino now has an opportunity to start from scratch in the regard of the formation of the Cabinet. And it’s significant that she remains as president and that each one of the appointments now will be her own,” he said. Enrile had claimed that her government was a coalition agreed to by him as one of the forces that helped depose Marcos.

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“I think her new government will be restructured with a heavy emphasis on security for the country--security with regard to indiscriminate murders, as well as the New People’s Army, the Communist insurgents,” he said, adding: “But it also probably will be reoriented to give more of an incentive to business to invest in the Philippines.”

Stockman said Aquino’s choice for a new defense minister, Rafael Ileto, to replace her archrival Juan Ponce Enrile, is “a distinguished professional soldier and diplomat.”

Lugar, looking ahead to the Philippines’ February plebiscite on a new constitution, said, “The reconstitution of the Philippine government really depends upon her stability now, and she will have complete United States support in achieving that.”


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