ASIA PHILIPPINES - “In the Philippines we need a government of national unity to bring peace to the country and resolve economic problems” is the opinion of a Fides Agency missionary

Wednesday, 2 June 2004

Manila (Fides Agency) - “In the Philippines we need a government of national unity to bring peace to the country and resolve the problems affecting economy, politics and society as a whole. There is a high rate in unemployment and poverty, corruption is widespread, an agreement needs to be signed with the Islamic based and communist inspired guerrilla” says Fr Eliseo Mercado, responsible for the Justice and Peace Office of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, for many years teacher at the University Notre Dame of Cotabato, on Mindanao, an island in the south of the Philippines. “It happened already at Ramos’s times - he remembers - when they formed a government called Rainbow Coalition”.
In the meanwhile the Philippine Congress is verifying the results of May 10th elections for president and vice-president. Votes needs to be counted before June 30th, when the mandate of current president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, ends. Polls give her ahead of a few percentage points over opposition candidate, actor Fernando Poe.
According to Fr Mercado “voting operations generally took place correctly, even though frauds could have taken place, especially in the remote mountains areas or on some of the most distant islands, where people are not educated and no nothing of civic education”. But he also adds “a new mass people demonstration is unlikely: apart from some groups of dissenters, people are generally satisfied. Even the spectre of new popular uprising summoned by Poe seems very unlikely”.
Explaining the present situation, the missionary stresses the fact that there is a clash going on in the Philippines, between economical and political lobbies to get a firm grasp of power. Philippine politics are indeed strongly in the hands of an oligarchy of great and powerful families. (PA) (Fides Agency 2/6/2004 Lines 23 words 234)