Manila (AsiaNews) - Corruption, poverty, unemployment, these are the themes of the election campaign that began yesterday in the Philippines. On 10th May more than 50 million people will vote to choose: president, vice president, 300 deputies in both houses of Congress and 17,600 local politicians. These are the first presidential elections after 6 years of government of the outgoing President Gloria Arroyo. To avoid the fraud that characterized previous editions, the 2010 elections will also be the first to employ an electronic counting of votes. This year the favourite candidate for president is Gilberto Teodoro, current Minister of Defence, endorsed by Arroyo, but who will inherit the current governments legacy of accusations of corruption. The other rival candidates are: Manuel "Bamba Villar Jr.. Senator and President of the Nacionalista Party and Benigno "NoyNoy" Aquino, son of former President Cory Aquino. Also running in the election former president and actor Joseph Estrada, who ruled the country from 1998 to 2001.
"Candidates must begin the campaign having as their purpose to serve the nation - said Msgr. Angel Lagdemeo, Archbishop of Jaro - and this through the honest and truthful education of the population about the situation of our country. " The prelate is worried about the risk of violence, intimidation and vote buying that have always characterized the election period. The campaign of 2010 began a few months after the massacre that took place in Maguindanao last November 23 that killed 57 supporters of Ishmael "Toto" Mangudadatu candidate for governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (Armm). According to police records, there have already been 63 deaths linked to the 2010 elections. The figure confirms the campaign related tensions experienced in the past. In 2007 there were 121 murder cases during the campaigning period, but 148 in the 2004 presidential elections.
"People are disgusted by the current political climate - says Fr Carmelo Diola, director of Dilaab, a foundation against corruption created by the Church in Cebu City (Mindanao) - it is characterized by unresolved cases of corruption, fraud and murder. " "Filipinos – he add - dream of a free society, served by responsible leaders." To help the population to prevent fraud and intimidation, the Church has created the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting. These days more than 45 thousand young volunteers were sent to various parishes throughout the country that host polling stations. In addition to monitoring the counting of votes, the volunteers will have the task of explaining the different modes of voting.