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PIA Press Release

PGMA drums up call for credible, peaceful polls

By Jean D. Abangan

Davao City (10 May) -- AS the campaign period gets into its final lap, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo drums up her call for all to do their share in ensuring a "truly democratic" election.

Over the weekend, Arroyo called for a collective effort directed at reducing violence as her administration stayed committed to ensure "protection not only for candidates but also for the sanctity of the ballot."

Arroyo has been nagging the Philippine National Police to solve cases of election-related violence which have gone up as election gets near its date on May 14.

Earlier, she asked the Armed Forces of the Philippines to reinforce the PNP in putting an end to election-related incidents in an effort to ensure peaceful and orderly elections.

The AFP had been relegated to minor roles during elections after some of its generals had been implicated for allegedly rigging the presidential elections in 2004.

She wanted checkpoints be manned vigilantly and that all unauthorized firearms be confiscated.

She also urged candidates and their allies to help "keep tensions at bay and not to test or defy authorities."

The President even echoed her call for help to prevent election violence to security and detective agencies under the Philippine Association of Detective and Protective Agency Operators (PADPAO) and the Philippine Association of Recognized Security Training Schools, Inc (PARSTSI).

PADPAO has 2,500 security agencies under its wing with 450,000 security guards.

While keeping in mind security matters, Arroyo encouraged the civil society to be vigilant against election cheats and fraud.

Arroyo believes that the election comes as a test to democracy so she calls on every Filipino to strengthen democratic foundation on which the country's economic welfare is built.

"Together we can show the world that the Filipino thrives in a democratic system based on free choice," she said.

Meanwhile, the administration welcomes the presence of foreign poll observers noting this as a challenge for all Filipinos to help ensure a peaceful, orderly and credible elections, "truly reflective of people's will", Presidential Spokesperson Ignacio Bunye said.

He cited this as nothing unusual as there had been foreign observers in the past Philippine elections.

A total of 219 foreign observers from 12 countries and seven organizations are seeking accreditation from COMELEC. They are from United States, Japan, England, Canada, Australia, Spain, Singapore, France, Sweden, Finland, Germany and New Zealand.

On the other hand, President Arroyo has declared May 14 as a special non-working public holiday though Proclamation Number 1279 "to give the people the fullest opportunity to exercise their right to suffrage during the national and local elections on that day." (PIA XI/JMDA) [top]

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