Aquino Brings Her `Report Card' to US
Philippine president seeks aid and expanded market for goods, while US may press issue of naval and air bases. A `SELLING' TRIP
PRESIDENT Corazon Aquino arrives in New York from Ottawa this week on the first leg of a five-day ``selling'' trip for her cash-strapped country. In Washington, she will meet with President Bush and with Michel Camdessus, the International Monetary Fund's managing director.
Her itinerary includes meetings with millionaire-entrepreneur Malcolm Forbes and the New York Chamber of Commerce, the launching of the First Philippine Fund at the New York Stock Exchange, breakfast with oil industry executives, and the opening of an exhibit of Philippine export products at J.C. Penney stores in Dallas.
She will also ``clarify and confirm'' through talks with legislators the United States commitment to the Philippine Assistance Program, a multilateral fund to help rehabilitate the Philippine economy initiated by the US government.
Mrs. Aquino's mission comes a month before the start of ``exploratory talks'' between the Philippine and US governments on the future of the US military installations on the island of Luzon. A growing minority in Manila opposed to bases has mounted a strong movement to end the US military presence here.
Aquino brings to Washington what she calls a ``report card'' on her accomplishments in the three years since she became president of her country of 60 million, more than 40 percent of whom officially live below the poverty line.
Her record, of which she says she ``could speak of with pride,'' includes ``the restoration of democratic institutions and processes,'' the ``rehabilitation'' of the economy, her government's survival of at least five coup attempts, and getting a 20-year old communist insurgent movement under control.
On her US agenda are proposals for the expansion of markets for Philippine goods in the US, an invitation to American business to invest in the Philippines, the improvement of US development aid, and the solicitation of US help in reducing the country's crippling $30 billion external debt.
Viewed against the imminent talks on the bases agreement between the US and the Philippines, some Filipinos say Aquino's trip is ill timed.
They worry they may have to make early concessions on the bases in exchange for the assistance she needs to continue her infrastructure, employment, and social-welfare programs.
Although she has repeatedly stated that the bases issue is not included in the ``talking points'' when she meets Mr. Bush, the speculation here is that the Americans will not pass up the opportunity to pressure Aquino to extend the stay of Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base on the island of Luzon.
The bases agreement between the two countries expires in September 1991 and either side must serve notice of termination or extension by September 1990.
The bases issue is an emotional one in the Philippines, where an influential minority resents the US's continued military presence 43 years after granting independence to its former colony. Foes of the bases would like to see a provision in the Constitution that prohibits establishment of foreign military bases and storage of nuclear weapons on Philippine soil.
When Aquino left Manila, the country's public school teachers were poised to strike over the issue of wages, while rice farmers clamored for higher Government price subsidies.
Aquino heads for home Saturday from the West Coast after meeting with the members of the Filipino community there.