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Three More Candidates Killed, Voting Postponed In 5 More Provinces

January 11, 1988

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ The military announced Monday that three more candidates in next week’s local elections had been murdered, bringing to 30 the number slain since the campaign began Dec. 1.

At least 60 people have been killed in election-related violence, most of them candidates, candidates’ relatives, and campaign workers.

On Sunday, election officials postponed balloting in five more provinces. Voters in 10 of the nation’s 73 provinces and three cities will have to wait until after the Jan. 18 polls to vote.

The military will then be able to concentrate troops in hot spots.

″It saddens me to hear there are some candidates who are using arms for this campaign,″ President Corazon Aquino told rallies for canditions, and warned that apathy ″could be fatal″ to the country’s fragile democracy.

Military chief Gen. Fidel V. Ramos accuses Communist rebels of more than half the killings. He told reporters Monday that the number of candidates slain was ″unusually high,″ even by the bloody standards of Philippine elections.

Military officials identified the latest victims as mayoral candidates Pepito Silang and Benjamin Cuaresma Jr. and town council candidate Alfredo Jaraba.

Four men shot Silang Sunday in Taybas, about 55 miles southeast of Manila. About 50 men abducted Cuaresma from a meeting that night in Bambang, about 110 miles northwest of the capital. His body was found early Monday outside the city. Jaraba was ambushed late Sunday on the Bataan peninsula west of Manila.

The Commission on Elections on Sunday postponed voting in Ilocos Sur, Quezon, Abra, Ifugao and Northern Samar. It earlier reset polls in Sulu, Tawi- Tawi, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte and Maguindanao provinces, and Cotobato, Iligan and Marawi cities on Mindanao island.

The commission has also taken control of local governments, including police, in nine other provinces in an effort to ensure fair elections. Commission chairman Ramon Felipe said Monday that if local tensions ease, balloting still might be held Jan. 18 in those areas.

About 160,000 governors, mayors, vice mayoral and local council members are to be chosen in the elections.

Meanwhile, Sin told a civic group Monday in suburban Quezon City that ″from the way I look at it, there does not seem to be too much interest in the election ... This lack of interest could be fatal.

″If bad candidates win, they can consolidate their position in such a way that, come 1992, they will be so strong that their presidential candidate will be swept into office,″ Sin said.

He noted that some government officials have been quoted as saying it is nearly impossible to avoid violence.

″Every candidate has his friends and relatives, and these people cannot just stand by idly while their candidate is being attacked and maligned,″ the cardinal said. ″So what do they do? They get their guns and they eliminate the attacks by eliminating the attackers.

Sin said the ″evil regime″ of ousted President Ferdinand Marcos tried to rig elections through ″vote-buying, vote-rigging, falsified-counting, ballot- stuffing and other forms of electoral dishonesty. All these were un- Christian methods perpetrated by an amoral, power-hungry dictatorship.″

A February 1986 military-civliian uprising sent Marcos into Hawaiian exile.

In the capital, Senate President Jovito Salonga told reporters his Liberal Party supports Mrs. Aquino, but was opposing ″members of political dynasties or notorious personalities″ backed by her brother, Rep. Jose Cojuangco, and her brother-in-law, Paul Aquino.

Mrs. Aquino’s relatives, seeking support in areas where rightists remain strong, have endorsed some politicians formerly allied with Marcos.

″We did not suffer 14 years of the Marcos dictatorship only to see the return of the same practices of Marcos,″ Salonga said.

His remarks were the latest sign the coalition that brought Mrs. Aquino to power was breaking up amid a reshuffling of political forces in the campaign.

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