Marcos: `This is a mandate I cannot refuse'. In a Monitor interview, Marcos said Aquino's campaign to unseat him will end in violence. But many Aquino supporters say her campaign isn't tough enough. Meanwhile, the US is preparing for the post-Marcos era. (See related stories on page 9.)
The Filipino opposition's civil disobedience plan ``is going to end in violence,'' President Ferdinand Marcos says. ``I have been warned that this is actually the purpose of the opposition party,'' Mr. Marcos said in an interview.
The opposition announced its post-election program Sunday. The opposition's plan, which is backed by the Philippine Roman Catholic hierarchy, includes boycotts of progovernment businesses and news media, a day of national nonviolent protest after Mr. Marcos's inauguration Feb. 25, and rallies around the country to be led by opposition leader Corazon Aquino.
In the interview, Marcos lashed out at the church, accusing some bishops of being communist and claiming that voting areas in the Feb. 7 election were mobbed by priests and nuns who overwhelmed his supporters.
He also said he does not care about the election results, but that democracy has been preserved. But having been declared winner Saturday, Marcos said: ``This is a mandate that I cannot refuse.'' The Monitor interview follows:
What changes in government will you make?
First of all, I think we should attend to the economic problem. The International Monetary Fund is going to make a review of our compliance with criteria that have been established between our government and the IMF at the end of March. We must see to it that we must comply with those criteria. At the same time, I would like to finalize the organization of the [recently proposed] Council of State, wherein I intend to invite all members of the political spectrum . . . to participate in policymaking, as well as in the implementation of such policies.
Everything is up in the air. I would like the advice of everybody before we do anything. I do not want it said that I am deciding things on my own again.
What kind of prayer or introspection have you had during these last few days?
I wrote the national prayer! I've been praying that we can keep the momentum of spiritual regeneration that we started way back. When I first became President, I realized that most of our people were bogged down in resignation to ignorance and poverty, which they had been taught under the Spanish regime as their destiny from heaven. They were resigned to spiritual hopelessness.
In short, what the church was supposed to have done -- which was to strengthen the spirit and morality of our people -- has failed in creating a people who could be called a united and dynamic race.
So it became my vision -- the linchpin of the entire program -- to bring about spiritual regeneration, not just the theoretical morality and spiritual change that people like to talk about, but which is never manifested in the freedom of the soul, the strength of the spirit, its resurgence, its effort to be above all things material.
And from there . . . the people . . . would be proud of their past, of their culture, of their race. This is usually brought about by such material manifestations like self-reliance -- men and women and children who are able to stand up on their feet.
This requires a spiritual regeneration to begin with. To us, we have begun this effort. We have probably partially succeeded. It is my hope that we can contaminate the younger generation with the same flame that burns in our hearts for our people. To me, that is the principal objective. All these marginal quarrels, even politics itself, are mere manifestations of spiritual regeneration. You see that in these elections. Everybody was so moved by their cause that there are reports of . . . coercion, intimidation, even violence.
The First Lady said you were so moved by the display of democracy that you did not really care what the results were.
Yes, I was just happy that we had preserved democracy. And that we have rejuvenated the spirit of our people that they can march even in the street, instead of just accepting, say, the orders of their tribal leaders, which used to happen before. They can organize their own groups, whether against me or in my favor -- [which] indicates democracy is alive, indicates that we have succeeded somehow.
It really doesn't matter what a bishop says, or a leader of [the opposition party] UNIDO says. The fact is that democracy is alive.
How do you now mobilize and unify the people?
I think that again we speak of spiritual regeneration, patriotism, and love of country, and this means pride in culture, pride in your past, pride in your heros, the reestablishment of identity as a separate race, the return of dignity. This you do also with social justice.
If some 48 percent have voted for your opponent, how will you bring them into your economic program?
By treating them with social justice, by treating them like anybody else, and by not shunting them aside, saying: `You did not vote for me -- I don't care what happens to you.' No. Perform your task as President, which in the oath says: `Enforce all the laws and do justice to every man.' If you do that, I know the Filipino is mature enough now to realize, as they have in the last two years [of economic decline], that there is cooperation for . . . social coherence. . . . To me this is a lesson . . . , and that is: When there is a common enemy, the people will unite. These differences and politics, which occur in every democratic country, do not divide the country.
What is the common enemy?
The economic crisis and communism. Communism has wreaked havoc on the countryside. . . .
I note in the bishops' statement [last Friday], nothing is said about communism, which means some of them follow the theology of liberation, and therefore they are communists themselves. This means that we will have to classify members of the clergy. There are those who are not impartial, because they lost the election and they are openly for the opposition. This seems to be more sour grapes than anything else.
Do you think the extent of fraud and voter disenfranchisement might have affected the outcome?
No. Let's put it this way: We tried everything to control our people. And they were overwhelmed by this mob of priests and nuns who took over the [voting] precincts. We have pictures showing they had taken over the precincts. All of this, in short, requires a dispassionate and fair investigation.
What if an independent auditor compared the vote tallies of Namfrel [the independent National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections] and Comelec [official Commission on Elections]? Would you accept the result?
No, no. The Constitution [gives] the right to proclaim a President [to] the Batasang [National Assembly].
One possible strategy of the opposition is to have some bloodshed and violence to test the loyalty of the military.
They will never provoke the military. The opposition is worried, because we have refused to be provoked. Of course that is part of their plan. They will be very disappointed. I think if there is any tradition which the armed forces value, it is the fact that they have always supported the duly constituted civilian authorities of the government. There is no history or precedent of any of the military taking up arms against the civilian government. And they are very proud of this.
Your father said, `Never start a fight that you cannot win.'
This was also the advice of my grandfather, and when you are fighting a strong foe, he said, `Run him down with slow, daily harrassments, but don't confront them.'
In calling this snap election, did you choose a fight that you could win?
I have my own theory about why the lead went down to 1.5 million [votes]. At first, they [the opposition] showed that they had no money. The last two or three days, there was vote-buying. They even bought out our people, our leaders. And, of course, participation of such unusual groups like the clergy and Namfrel -- in numbers that we never expected -- and then the turnaround of Namfrel openly for the opposition. They [the opposition] were buying votes from 100 to 150 pesos a vote [$5 to $8]. We can document this.
Do you still think that you have the mandate to unify the people?
Oh yes. This is a mandate that I cannot refuse. It would be both cowardly and treachery [sic] -- look, you bring the people to a point of agitation and the point of passion and conflict, saying that we must decide who the leader is, and then you run out on them. I think I would be a traitor to our cause.