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80,000 Stand in Rain to Cheer Corazon Aquino

January 14, 1986

ILOILO CITY, Philippines (AP) _ Promising Filipinos justice if she is elected president, opposition candidate Corazon Aquino lighted a candle Monday night at the foot of a bridge where nine opposition followers were gunned down during the 1984 National Assembly election.

″Justice is not anymore possible while (President Ferdinand E.) Marcos is head of our government,″ Mrs. Aquino said, after she and vice presidential candidate Salvador H. Laurel laid flowers near a wooden cross marking the ambush site, 40 miles west of this central Philippine city.

Teresita Tamboong, 33, widow of one of the victims, broke into tears as she embraced Mrs. Aquino, whose own husband, former Sen. Benigno Aquino, was assassinated in Manila in August 1983 on his return from self-imposed exile in the United States.

No one has been charged for the killings of the nine on Sibalom Bridge.

Crowds of up to 90,000 welcomed Mrs. Aquino when she visited the provinces of Iloilo and nearby Antique in a hectic campaign to unseat Marcos in the Feb. 7 special election.

Earlier Monday, about 80,000 people stood cheering in the rain and chanting ″Cory 3/8 Cory 3/8″

″It is unbelievable - all that rain and all the people stayed on,″ Mrs. Aquino told a news conference after a change of clothes following a 31/2 -hour motorcade around this central Philippine city, 290 miles south of Manila.

Mrs. Aquino drew crowds of 150,000 and 200,000 last weekend in Naga and Cebu cities.

The tens of thousands that cheered Mrs. Aquino in her cross-country swing far exceeded the crowds that Marcos has drawn in his rallies, raising opposition hopes of victory.

Marcos and his vice presidential candidate, Arturo Tolentino, were to campaign Tuesday in Naga City, south of Manila, where Mrs. Aquino and Laurel pulled in crowds of more than 150,000 last week.

Mrs. Aquino and Laurel earlier Monday campaigned in adjacent Antique province and then flew in separate planes to Iloilo City, which has a population of 250,000.

Her motorcade passed through an avenue strung with streamers for Marcos and his vice presidential running mate, Arturo Tolentino.

Mrs. Aquino stopped first at the city’s Roman Catholic cathedral, where Archbishop Alberto Piamonte celebrated a Mass to pray for ″for our candidates during their travels and especially for the success of their rallies wherever they go.″

One of 12 priests assisting in the Mass flashed the opposition ″L″ sign with thumb and forefinger, for ″laban″ (fight), and winked at Mrs. Aquino.

The Marcos government, despite denials, pushed claims Monday that the opposition made a deal for Moslem secession.

The issue arose with a report, denied by Mrs. Aquino’s brother-in-law Agapito Aquino, that he reached agreement with Moslem rebels to give Moslem regions independence if Mrs. Aquino is elected.

″Marcos’ new accusation ... is, as usual, a lie. I pity him,″ said Mrs. Aquino in a statement released by her office in Manila.

Marcos on Sunday accused Agapito Aquino of treason for supposedly signing a pact with rebel leader Nur Misuari, head of the Moro National Liberation Front. Marcos’ statement was based on a news report from Fez, Morocco.

Agapito Aquino, brother of Mrs. Aquino’s assassinated husband, said in a press statement he met Misuari in an effort to seek peace on Mindanao Island and in other areas where Moslems live. He said only the president could sign an agreement with Misuari.

About 5 percent of the 54 million Filipinos are Moslem.

In other developments Monday:

-Mrs. Aquino proposed she and Marcos hold a public debate at a plaza in front of Manila’s main post office.

-U.S. Ambassador Stephen H. Bosworth told a news conference the United States would remain impartial during the election and would be able to work with the winner. He stressed the need for a credible election.

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