A U.S. Embassy spokesman said Habib's 1 1/2-hour talk with Aquino focused on "how he could be of assistance, and to express support for the Aquino administration."
The United States has its two largest overseas military installations in the Philippines, which is a strategic ally and former American territory. Aquino has promised to honor an accord allowing the bases, Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base, to remain at least until the accord expires in 1991.
Habib, accompanied by U.S. Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, told Aquino the Filipino people "had astonished the world with their courage" during the revolt that forced Marcos to flee the country Tuesday after 20 years of rule.
"Pictures and television footage of nuns kneeling in the path of onrushing tanks had moved the American people and those in the highest circles of the U.S. government," Habib said, according to a statement issued by Aquino.
Members of the Aquino cabinet assumed their posts yesterday, meeting with their predecessors and staff. Early in the day, Aquino and her top aides attended a special Mass of thanksgiving celebrated by Cardinal Jaime L. Sin, the influential archbishop of Manila whose role in the revolt is considered a major factor in the fall of Marcos.
In a series of executive decisions yesterday, Aquino ordered heads of government offices to preserve all records and make inventories of their assets and finances.
Her executive secretary, Joker Arroyo, issued the order in response to reports of "deliberate destruction and pilferage" of records at several ministries and agencies. Among them were Human Settlements, a heavily funded ministry headed by Imelda Marcos, the former president's wife; the Government Corporate Counsel, and a gambling regulatory board.
The Marcoses were widely accused of corruption and of investing public
funds abroad in private accounts.
Embarking on the task of national reconciliation, Aquino ordered the release of 39 prisoners, including three human rights lawyers and an alleged central committee member of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines. Nine of them were released yesterday.
"It's too good to be true. I must be dreaming," labor leader Danilo Garcia said on his release from 19 months in captivity.
In an interview on NBC's Today show, Aquino said, "This is the time we have to heal all wounds and to work together so that we can get our country going again."
Aquino press spokesman Rene Saguisag said he hoped to announce the release of hundreds more by tomorrow. According to military records, he said, there are about 450 political prisoners in the country.
Among those released was Milagros Aguilar Roque, 35, a poet suspected by the Marcos regime of being a Communist Party leader.
But amid her reconciliation efforts, communist insurgents, who gained strength in recent years as discontent with Marcos grew, clashed with security forces in the first such incident since Aquino took office.
The security forces shot and killed two rebels in a clash west of Manila on Wednesday, the Philippine News Agency said yesterday.
Prime Minister Salvador H. Laurel has said that the government would soon offer an amnesty to all "political offenders" and that he expected most rebel supporters to accept it.
U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz, also interviewed on Today, said the communist insurgency was "something that has to be dealt with and dealt with strongly." But if the rebels "come back in the Philippine society and take part in the process, I think that's fine."
Authorities said Mayor Rodolfo Farinas of Laoag in Ilocos Norte province and nine aides and bodyguards were arrested at the Defense Ministry on Wednesday in a suspected assassination plot.
The suspects were taken into custody for questioning as Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile was holding a news conference. Authorities said assault rifles and guns were seized from three cars parked near Enrile's helicopter at the ministry grounds.
Enrile was one of the two leaders of the military revolt, and Farinas is a close friend of Marcos' son, Ferdinand Jr., 26.
Authorities also seized high-powered firearms and ammunition from the governor's office in the province of Leyte, the home of Marcos' wife, Imelda.
In his Mass of thanksgiving for the "people power" revolution he helped guide, Cardinal Sin welcomed the top leaders of the new government.
Some people in the Philippines believe that much of the credit for the ouster of Marcos and the peaceful assumption of power by Aquino, widow of murdered opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr., should go to Cardinal Sin and his church.
One key turning point in the opposition struggle came one week after the fraud-tainted Feb. 7 presidential election, when the influential 110-member Catholic Bishops' Conference denounced the outcome of the election and gave official sanction to nonviolent resistance.
The people of the Philippines agreed, protecting the leaders of the revolution by placing themselves in the paths of troops and tanks in the final critical hours before Marcos, his family and close supporters boarded American helicopters at Malacanang Palace and flew into exile.