San Juan, Metro Manila, Feb. 22, 2003 (Malaya) -- A survey in connection with the tense situation in the Middle East shows that Filipinos generally believe the United Nations could disarm Iraq peacefully, and should armed conflict erupt, the Philippines should not support a unilateral US attack or send troops to Iraq.

The survey, released yesterday, was conducted among participants of the second session of the Citizens' Caucus held last Thursday at the Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan.

Former Sen. Francisco Tatad, the Citizens' Caucus founding chairman, said of the 302 respondents, 248 or almost 80 percent believed the UN could disarm Iraq without resorting to war.

Only 54 favored war as the only way to disarm the Saddam Hussein-ruled country.

Tatad also said the survey showed that 258 of the respondents, or 85 percent, do not want the Philippines to send troops to Iraq even if the UN decides to back a US attack.

Tatad said 262 were against the Philippines supporting a unilateral US strike against Iraq, while 36 endorsed it.

The survey was made after the caucus participants called on President Arroyo to withdraw her support for US plans to wage war against Iraq.

The respondents said Philippine involvement in the war would have disastrous consequences, not only for Filipinos working in the Middle East, but also for those at home.

On the absentee voting law, respondents believe that it would help cleanse the electoral process.

While the historical law was intended to purify the country's elections, 269 of the respondents expressed reservations that the new law could help turn the elections into a more honest, orderly and credible exercise.

Two hundred twelve respondents also believed that the Namfrel and the people behind the election watchdog are only working for their own vested interests and not for clean and honest polls.

An overwhelming number (262) perceived President Arroyo had consistently violated the Constitution, from the time she assumed the presidency up to her declaration of support for the US action against Iraq.

Two hundred twenty-four of the respondents also believed that Arroyo should now step down or be removed from office through peaceful people power rallies.

Some 400 delegates from various parts of the country attended the caucus.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan delivered the principal address, while Elections Commissioner Luzviminda Tancangco, former Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Juan Ponce Enrile, former assemblyman Homobono Adaza, and lawyers Macapanton Abbas Jr. and Felix Carao Jr. took part in the discussions.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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