09/27/2006, 00.00
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Filipino bishops confirm fraud in 2004 elections

by Santosh Digal

A confidential report drawn up in May confirmed fraud took place to the detriment of one of Arroyo's contenders: Fernando Poe Jr was illegally deprived of at least 600,000 votes.

Manila (AsiaNews) – Late movie icon Fernando Poe Jr., who ran for president in the May 2004 elections, was defrauded of at least 600,000 votes, according to a report issued yesterday by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). The vote was won by the current president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The Bishop Emeritus of Novaliches, Mgr Teodoro Bacani, said the report was submitted by a committee of inquiry tasked by the bishops. However, he added, this did not mean "Poe won the elections. The report only stated that he (Poe) was a victim of massive electoral fraud."

As for who might be the "brains" behind the fraud, the bishop said: "It is probably not President Arroyo but people close to her". 

The committee of inquiry, which included former CBCP secretary Mgr Hernando Coronel, distributed its report to the bishops in May 2006 but it was marked "for your eyes only", which explains why it was not published earlier.

The bishop is one of the most renowned critics of the Arroyo administration, struck by a series of scandals linked to electoral fraud and the misappropriation of public funds. Mgr Bacani said the allegation of cheating was "one of the main reasons of national discontent."

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