07/19/2005, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Commission to investigate Arroyo announced

Filipino bishops had demanded such a commission to investigate vote-rigging allegations against the President.

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Filipino President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced this morning she is setting up a commission to investigate vote-rigging accusations that have been made against her since early June.

She denies any wrongdoing but in an open letter to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines says that the commission was necessary to restore public trust.

Filipino bishops had called for such a commission on July 10th to look into the allegations". "In the present situation [of political instability,] . . . in a spirit of humility and truth, we declare our prayerfully discerned collective decision that we do not demand her resignation," wrote Mgr Capalla. However, the bishops did call for a commission of inquiry into allegations of corruption.

The political situation has become even more troubled by allegations of corruption levelled at Ms Arroyo's husband, son and brother-in-law who are under investigation by the Filipino Senate for allegedly receiving money from illegal gambling operations.

The President herself has been accused of electoral fraud in the 2004 presidential elections. During a Senate hearing, a tape was played in which she is heard asking an electoral official to alter voting results in her favour.

On July 13, some 30,000 demonstrators took to the streets of manila demanding she resign.

Ms Arroyo is however unwilling to resign despite the fact that 13 members of her cabinet have resigned and much of the population is against her.

In her defence, she said that voters gave her 40 per cent of the vote and one million more ballots that her opponent. "This cannot be vote-rigging".

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