Aquino Considering Amnesty for Marcos if Some Wealth Returned
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ President Corazon Aquino said in an interview broadcast today she is considering amnesty for Ferdinand E. Marcos and his followers if they return some of the nation’s wealth they allegedly stole.
″At least part or a greater part of the whole is better than nothing at all, and we feel that maybe we can get this coming back faster if we will be able to offer them amnesty,″ Mrs. Aquino said in a nationally televised interview with a journalist who has been critical of her government.
Criminal charges have been filed with the Good Government Commission alleging that former president Marcos, members of his family and several associates stole at least $5 billion from the government.
Mrs. Aquino did not specify what kind of amnesty she had in mind. She has said Marcos would not be allowed to return to the Philippines until political conditions are stabilized.
She also has said she would forgive Marcos if he returned the wealth he allegedly siphoned of the country during his 20-year rule. But it was the first time she publicly suggested amnesty.
Mrs. Aquino said she would leave it to former Sen. Jose Diokno, head of a new human rights commission, to decide how much priority to give to reopening the case of the 1983 assassination of her husband, Benigno Aquino. Aquino, a former senator and opponent of Marcos, was shot to death upon returning to the Philippines from self-imposed exile in the United States.
Twenty-five soldiers and a civilian were acquitted last year of involvement in the assassination, and the Supreme Court is considering a motion to void the verdicts.
It was Mrs. Aquino’s second televised interview since becoming president Feb. 25 in a civilian-military revolt against Marcos. The leaders of the revolt supported her claim to have won the fraud-tainted Feb. 7 presidential election, in which the National Assembly dominated by Marcos proclaimed him the winner.
She was interviewed by Philippine Daily Inquirer editor-in-chief Luis Beltran and spoke mostly in Tagalog. The interview took place Monday but was broadcast on Wednesday.
Mrs. Aquino said there has been too much criticism of her government and appealed for time to ″get everything together, time to get everything organized.″
She defended herself against critics who have said her governing style lacks firmness, saying, ″I’d much rather let one guilty person go rather than crucify one innocent person.″
She said she does not plan to break up pro-Marcos demonstrations as long as they do not turn violent, and noted that her husband was jailed by Marcos for seven years.
″I do not want to happen what happened to us. If these demonstrators only want to speak out, that’s okay with me,″ she said.
″But the minute they use force, the minute they resort to shooting or even throwing stones, then I have already told the mayors to tell the police to arrest these people.″
Scores of Marcos loyalists, sometimes swelling to hundreds, have camped for days in front of the U.S. Embassy in Manila and charged the United States with taking Marcos out of the country against his will on Feb. 26.
Marcos has said from exile in Hawaii that when he fled his presidential palace to the U.S. Clark Air Base during the pro-Aquino revolt, he thought he would be taken to his hometown north of Manila.