Marcos denies U.S. role in martial law

By FERNANDO DEL MUNDO  |  Jan. 19, 1981
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MANILA, Philippines -- President Ferdinand Marcos denied Monday the United States had influenced his decisions to enact and now lift martial law, although individual Americans interceded on behalf of political prisoners.

Speaking before the interim national assembly and a nationwide radio-television audience 48 hours after he ended martial law, Marcos also announced he was turning over legislative powers to the 184-member body.

Opposition leaders said the end of martial law does not mean the end of the 'Marcos dictatorship.'

Marcos said he will retain power to make decrees but it will be used only in a 'grave emergency' and after the assembly acts. In addition, Marcos said he will keep emergency powers.

Marcos, 63, has promised to hold general elections in 1984 when a regular parliament will be convened.

The president denied opposition claims the Nixon administration knew of Marcos' plan to clamp the former U.S. colony under martial law on Sept. 21, 1972 and had stationed 40,000 troops at the Subic Bay naval base to meet any contingency.

'The United States never exerted any pressure as to the proclamation of martial law nor the termination or lifting of martial law,' Marcos said.

He said there were 'several suggestions on the part of several individuals as to the treatment of some alleged political prisoners' but no decision was made because of 'any reports, suggestions or recommendations of the United States.'

The State Department issued a statement saying the end of martial law was a positive step and 'the new measure should be allowed to speak for itself over time.'

Last month, the Civil Liberties Union of the Philippines charged the United States with colluding with Marcos to lift martial law in name only.

Marcos said that in the 'new era' the interim assembly should concentrate on the nation's economic and energy problems.

While Marcos said it would control legislation, decrees and directives issued under martial law can be revised only by himself and the regular parliament when it is elected -- apparently not the interim assembly.

Marcos also said he would keep the power to ratify treaties although he promised to consult the interim assembly before entering into any pact.

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