Tolentino Was Marcos Critic Before Becoming Running Mate With AM-Philippines, Bjt
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Arturo Tolentino, who led a revolt he says Ferdinand Marcos ordered, was fired as the former president’s foreign minister last year but then became his running mate in the disputed February election.
Tolentino is a constitutional scholar, and because of his criticism of Marcos while in the government, had gained a reputation as an independent thinker.
When he called the presidential election more than a year early, Marcos faced frequent charges of being an authoritarian ruler who brooked no dissent. He apparently chose Tolentino as his vice presidential candidate to give the ticket more credibility.
Marcos and Tolentino were declared winners of the election, which was denounced as fraudulent here and abroad, but a military-civilian uprising forced Marcos out of the country Feb. 26. He was sworn in before leaving but Tolentino, who remained, was not.
From exile in Hawaii, Marcos called for Tolentino to declare himself acting president until he could return to the Philippines. Tolentino finally did so Sunday and Marcos congratulated him, but denied instructing him to do it.
Despite his long association with Marcos, Tolentino was respected for his relative independence and was a popular politician, expecially in Manila. He was an engaging speaker and an energetic campaigner.
At 75, he remains active and physically robust.
He has written law books and a high school textbook on Philippine government. He represented the Philippines at the United Nations, and was chief Philippine negotiator on the U.N. Law of the Sea treaty.
Tolentino served in Congress from 1949 until Marcos abolished it in 1972 when he declared martial law, which remained in effect for eight years. He was elected again when it was reconsituted, and in 1984 was the only government- party candidate to win in Manila’s five congressional districts.
He drafted or sponsored more than 2,000 bills, including the country’s civil legal code and anti-graft law.
Carlos P. Romulo, who was about to retire as foreign minister, recommended in June 1984 that Tolentino replace him, and Marcos made the appointment.
Marcos fired him nine months later when Tolentino insisted on retiring two Foreign Ministry officials whose terms the president wanted to extend.
He had criticized Marcos frequently, challenging his power to make laws be decree and his economic policies.
When legislators of Marcos’ ruling New Society Movement acted quickly a year ago to kill an opposition attempt to impeach the president on corruption charges, Tolentino said he considered the allegations serious enough to warrant a full inquiry.
After accepting the nomination as vice president in December, Tolentino stopped criticizing Marcos. He stayed out of the spotlight immediately after the election, but began appearing in public after Marcos fled.
He criticized President Corazon Aquino for abolishing the National Assembly and replacing local officials who belonged to the old ruling party, and soon was put in the same category as former Marcos party officials whose statements were criticized as largely self-serving or hypocritical.