In the Philippines, President Ferdinand Marcos has rejected calls to end his seven-year old martial rule, saying it would be folly to lift martial law while there were threats of increasing superpower confrontation, regional conflict, internal problems and even the possibility of nuclear war.
In the Philippines, President Ferdinand Marcos has rejected calls to end his seven-year old martial rule, saying it would be folly to lift martial law while there were threats of increasing superpower confrontation, regional conflict, internal problems and even the possibility of nuclear war. However on the eve of his 62nd birthday (10 September) he announced an amnesty for fifteen hundred prisoners and the release of all detainees against whom no formal charges had been filed. Tuesday (11 September) was declared a national holiday to mark President Marcos' birthday and a huge open air rally was held in Manila.
A crowd estimated in the hundreds of thousands attended a huge open air rally in Manila on Tuesday (11 September) to mark the 62nd birthday of Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos. Mr. Marcos used the occasion to announce tight government clamps on land sales in the country's capital.
President Marcos declared his birthday a public holiday. Government radio put estimates of the size of the crowd as high as three million.
The rally, to which many were bussed or marched, was clearly designed as a demonstration of support for the President, who had been under attack from opposition leaders in the past few week.
The birthday celebrations included a thanks giving mass conducted by the head of the Philippines Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Jaime Sin.
The Cardinal, a critic of the current martial law regime, later led the crowd in a rendition of "happy birthday".
President Marcos told the gathering that Metropolitan Manila would be designated an urban land reform zone. He said he was using his martial law powers to control land sales in the capital in an effort to cut down on speculation and provide squatters with better assurance of homes.
He said the measure was part of his "New Society" reform programme which he promised when he first declared martial law seven years ago.
The new programme is expected to provide for government development of unoccupied or unused land. The President assured his audience that it was not designed to expropriate properly developed or exploited land in the cities.
Hundreds of thousands of people attended the rally to mark President Marcos' 62nd birthday, which took on the appearance of a demonstration of support for the President who has been under attack from opposition leaders over the past few weeks. Former President Diosdado Macapagal, several congressmen and clergymen have been calling for a return to democracy and free elections.
Cardinal Jaime Sin and Cardinal Julio Rosales conducted a thanksgiving mass attended by President Marcos and his wife before the start of the day-long entertainment. Then Cardinal Sin one of the critics of martial law led the crowd in singing Happy Birthday. In a move to meet some of the criticism President Marcos assured Filipinos on Monday (10 September) he would implement new measures designed to prevent military abuses of power. He claimed that 171 officers and over three thousand enlisted men had been discharged for various offences since he imposed martial law in September 1972.
President Marcos used the occasion to announce strict new Government controls on property sales and development. He claimed the plan was not to expropriate anyone but to cut down on speculation so that squatters would have a better chance of being housed. The new urban land programme is designed to parallel a rural programme under which all rice and corn land, but not sugar estate, plantations or other land holdings, would be redistributed.
The programme he announced is expected to provide for government development of waste land and to give some tenure guarantees to long-time squatters. President Marcos said the new measures were part of his "New Society" reform programme which he first declared seven years ago.