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27 April 2010

Philippines: Aquino warns of electoral fraud, ensuing turmoil

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Philippine presidential frontrunner Benigno Aquino said only fraud can stop him winning next month’s election and any such attempt would trigger unrest comparable with the protests that swept his mother to power 24 years ago, the Bloomberg News reported.

The 50-year-old son of former president Corazon Aquino, who has led opinion surveys since entering the race last year, criticized how a switch to electronic voting machines is being implemented and said a declaration that he is the loser of the May 10 poll would bring supporters onto the streets.

“If we have a correct counting of the votes, I think we will be very victorious,” said Aquino, whose mother toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos amid protests that followed a rigged election in 1986. If “the people’s will is frustrated,” demonstrations could make this month’s protests in Thailand seem “mild” by comparison, he said in an interview in Manila yesterday.

Aquino, known as “Noynoy,” claims his closest rival, property tycoon and Senator Manny Villar, is secretly backed by outgoing President Gloria Macapgal-Arroyo, and has accused both of corruption. A contested election result might disrupt efforts to tackle a record budget deficit, reduce Asia’s third-highest unemployment rate and increase foreign investment.

Aquino entered the race following the death of his mother from cancer in August, and was propelled to the top of the polls by an outpouring of nostalgia for the former president. He widened his lead over Villar to 15 percentage points in a survey conducted from April 18 to 20 by the Manila Standard. The survey had a margin of error of 2 percentage points, the newspaper reported yesterday.


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