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Filipino hopefuls sign pact for clean polls
By Manolo B. Jara / Agencies May 03, 2016
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MANILA: Two of the Philippines’ five presidential candidates on Monday signed a covenant initiated by Catholic bishops which vowed against their use of the three Gs — “guns, goons and gold — in the May 9 election exactly a week away.

Former interior secretary Mar Roxas, the hand-picked candidate of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino of the ruling Liberal Party, and Vice President Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance signed the covenant after a mass presided by Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, the Manila archbishop, at the Manila Cathedral in the city’s historic Spanish walled city of Intramuros.

Call TRUTH, the covenant stands for Truthful, Upright, Responsible, Transparent and Honest election on May 9.

Also signing the covenant were a representative of Congresswoman Leni Robredo of Camarines Sur province in the Bicol Region, and the running mate of Roxas, as well as 19 candidates running for the Senate.

Under TRUTH, the candidates vowed against their use of the three Gs — guns, goons and gold — that could mean victory or defeat especially in closely contested elections in the past.

The candidates also pledged to avoid the politics of personalities and patronage” to enable eligible Filipinos to vote wisely for their next leaders.

In his homily during the mass, Cardinal Tagle also urged the Filipinos to be analytical and study the candidates as he pointed out that participating in an election was a “responsibility.”

Among  those who witnessed the signing were Tagle and lawyer Andres Bautista, the chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) who vowed to make the coming May 9 polls “one of the cleanest and most honest ever.”

Noticeably missing during the covenant signing were the three other presidential candidates — Senator Grace Poe, who is running as an independent, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of Davao City in Mindanao of PDP-Laban and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who has admitted being a cancer victim of People’s Reform Party.

Also absent from the signing were vice presidential aspirants Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, the only son and namesake of the late Philippine dictator; Senator Francis Escudero, Senator “Gringo” Honasan and Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th.

In the latest findings of the  Pulse Asia pre-election survey released last week, the tough-talking Duterte who vowed that if elected president, he would to eliminate criminality and corruption “in three to six months.”

Pulse Asia said Roxas and Poe were statistically tied at second while Binay continued to see a further dip in his popularity rating mainly due to accusations that he amassed unexplained wealth when he was the mayor of suburban Makati City in Metro Manila, the country’s financial center.

On the other hand, Pulse Asia noted a significant surge in the Roxas rating that placed him on a statistical tie at second with Poe.

Allegations that the Philippine presidential election front-runner had a large sum of money in an undeclared bank account were not resolved on Monday, allowing the issue to hang over the final week of the closely fought race.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV has alleged Mayor Rodrigo Duterte kept more than 200 million pesos ($4.2 million) in a joint bank account with his daughter that he did not declare publicly in 2014 as required by law.

Trillanes, who is running for vice president and is backing a rival candidate of Duterte, went to the Bank of the Philippine Islands and met the mayor’s lawyer but said the questioned account was not opened for scrutiny.
 

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