Last month President Ferdinand Marcos lifted his martial law restrictions on freedom of speech and the press to permit a grace period of open debate on a new constitution for his troubled country. Last week he suddenly banned further free discussion and indefinitely postponed the plebiscite, which had originally been scheduled for Jan. 15. Instead, the Philippine President said, people would only be able to express their views on the new constitution at a series of government-organized citizens' assemblies.

Marcos announced the tough new action in a report on the first 100 days of martial law. Unscrupulous politicians, he said, had...

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