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Aquino Defends Her Govt.

Former Philippine Leader Speaks on Economic Policy

By Monica D. Watkins, Contributing Reporter

Corazon Aquino got a taste of "people power" Harvard-style last night before a standing ovation of 500 students and dignitaries.

The former Phillipine leader spoke about her tumultuous term and "a country on its knees able to rise to its feet among the other vigorous Asian nations."

Aquino said her greatest obstacle was rebuilding confidence in a government wracked by corruption under the Marcos regime.

"The strength of a government lies within its reputation for honesty," Aquino said. "It was said that it was not the economy that did Marcos in, it was his greed."

With the country still plagued by economic and natural disasters, she added that some in the Philippines continue to sympathize with Marcos, and want his remains brought back to his home country.

Describing her successes, Aquino said she revamped the Supreme Court, abolished the parliamentary system, madepreparations for a new constitution and Congressand established a Commission of Human Rights.

Aquino said that when she took office in 1986,the Phillipines lacked any development plan andhad no major industries to support a burgeoningpopulation.

Even though the Phillipines has developedadvanced agricultural methods akin to those beingused in neighboring countries, it has failed tomake use of them, Aquino said.

But she said that her task was extremelydifficult because under Marcos "the spirit ofenterprise died." She pointed to Marcos'government-owned monopoly on sugar and cocoa.

Marcos also left a debt of 100 billion pesos,which Aquino called a "monkey on [the citizens']backs, but it had the grip of a gorrilla."

Aquino has often been criticized in her owncountry for not bringing about change in theeconomy quickly.

Last night she defended her record by sayingthe economic change was long-term.

"It was sustained over six years," she said.

A Survivor

She attributes her political survival againstseven failed coup attempts to determination andthe development of what she calls a mutual respectbetween the military and civilians.

She said she takes pride in her efforts tobring together civilian and military wives fordiscussions. Aquino said she was particularlypleased to attend the wedding of a civilianstudent to a military cadet.

Although the Phillipines has recently facednatural disasters such as the recent earthquakeand typhoons, Aquino quipped that the 1991 Mt.Pinatubo volcanic eruption delayed the greenhouseeffect.

"Before you thank me, let me say that loweringthe lead content in gasoline is more effective,"she added.

Aquino said that an autobiography is in theworks, and that in the political arena she plansto pursue human rights causes in her country

Aquino said that when she took office in 1986,the Phillipines lacked any development plan andhad no major industries to support a burgeoningpopulation.

Even though the Phillipines has developedadvanced agricultural methods akin to those beingused in neighboring countries, it has failed tomake use of them, Aquino said.

But she said that her task was extremelydifficult because under Marcos "the spirit ofenterprise died." She pointed to Marcos'government-owned monopoly on sugar and cocoa.

Marcos also left a debt of 100 billion pesos,which Aquino called a "monkey on [the citizens']backs, but it had the grip of a gorrilla."

Aquino has often been criticized in her owncountry for not bringing about change in theeconomy quickly.

Last night she defended her record by sayingthe economic change was long-term.

"It was sustained over six years," she said.

A Survivor

She attributes her political survival againstseven failed coup attempts to determination andthe development of what she calls a mutual respectbetween the military and civilians.

She said she takes pride in her efforts tobring together civilian and military wives fordiscussions. Aquino said she was particularlypleased to attend the wedding of a civilianstudent to a military cadet.

Although the Phillipines has recently facednatural disasters such as the recent earthquakeand typhoons, Aquino quipped that the 1991 Mt.Pinatubo volcanic eruption delayed the greenhouseeffect.

"Before you thank me, let me say that loweringthe lead content in gasoline is more effective,"she added.

Aquino said that an autobiography is in theworks, and that in the political arena she plansto pursue human rights causes in her country

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