Protesters Dog Philippine Vice President
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Filipino-American protesters dogged Philippine Vice President Salvador H. Laurel throughout his weekend visit, accusing him of trying to weaken the political base of President Corazon Aquino.
But Laurel said the demonstrations did not dissuade him from trying to address one of the largest Filipino-American communities in the United States. He also said he was not perturbed by reports the Philippine Consulate was under orders to boycott his appearances.
″Maybe they think I’m here to criticize,″ Laurel said in an interview with local television station KRON. ″They think I’m here to throw a monkey wrench″ into Mrs. Aquino’s plans.
KRON reported Sunday night the consulate canceled 30 tickets it had to a Sunday luncheon, although consulate spokesman Shulan Primavera said it was done for financial, not political, reasons.
Earlier Sunday, the San Francisco Examiner reported Philippine Ambassador Emmanuel Pelaez in Washington instructed Consul General Virgilio Nanagas to ″refrain from attending (Laurel’s) speaking engagements or political engagements.″
The paper reported officials ″feared (Laurel) would openly criticize″ Mrs. Aquino. Nanagas declined comment.
There was no consular welcoming reception for Laurel, who is on an unofficial visit.
″There wasn’t even a cracker or a cup of coffee,″ said Gloria Navarrete, a Daly City businesswoman who helped organize a luncheon for the vice president.
About 250 protesters gathered in front of the St. Francis Hotel Sunday night, chanting ″Laurel, traitor, collaborator.″ Some waved placards, one reading, ″Laurel, The Ambassador of Gloom and Doom,″ another, ″Stop the Return of Fascism. Impeach Laurel.″
Inside the hotel, police briefly evacuated guests waiting to hear Laurel speak because of a bomb threat phoned in, police Capt. Michael Pera said. No bomb was found, police said.
Protesters charged that Laurel, who under the new Philippine Constitution would assume power if Mrs. Aquino were forced from office, is positioning himself to succeed Mrs. Aquino.
″He joined the struggle against Marcos very late,″ said Geline Avila. ″Salvador Laurel is an opportunist, a Philippine politican who is notorious for changing positions.″
″Laurel is like Joe McCarthy,″ said protester I.T. Concepcion Jr. of a group called Friends of Cory Aquino. Laurel recently released a list of 50 federal lawmakers he accused of being communists. ″He wants to crack down on all who are against him.
″He wants Cory to declare martial law against the communists, but how can democracy thrive under martial law?″
There are an estimated 1.5 million Filipino-Americans in the San Francisco Bay area.