MANILA,  January 3, 2004 (STAR) Malacañang expressed optimism yesterday that election spending for the May 10 elections would boost, not damage, the country’s economy.

"Dahil po sa election-spending ay nasi—circulate po ang ating pananalapi pagka ganitong panahon. Kaya on the whole yan po ay maka-kabuti sa ating ekonomiya (Because of election spending, money is circulated and on the whole it is good for the economy)," Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said over the state-run Radyo ng Bayan.

He failed to say how much President Arroyo, who is seeking a full six-year term in office, will spend for her campaign whether from public or private funds.

Fears have been raised that while there will be a lot of cash in the hands of the people during an election period, money in circulation is not matched by an equivalent increase in production, which could trigger inflation.

Bunye said opinion polls back up Malacañang’s forecast that economic gains posted during the past three years of the Arroyo administration will remain stable and solid.

Although he did not dwell on specifics, Bunye was obviously referring to the latest Social Weather Stations survey, which showed that despite political and economic difficulties in 2003, more Filipinos were hopeful of better times ahead.

Bunye reiterated yesterday that Mrs. Arroyo remains focused on her duties in governance even as she is set to file her certificate of candidacy with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday.

"Even if she files her candidacy, she remains as President and that is what she would continue to do and will not forget during her campaign. Her job is to push the government programs that will ease the lives of countrymen, those programs that add jobs in our country," Bunye said.

"Incidentally, we achieved a record of three million jobs over almost three years of her administration and she would also do the programs that will add shelter for our people, give health care and improve the peace and order. These are the basic needs of the average Filipino family. The President will perform all these even during the campaign period," Bunye reassured.

In a press briefing at the Palace yesterday, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) chairman Michael Defensor said that Mrs. Arroyo and Sen. Noli de Castro’s victory at the polls in May would ensure the continuity of government programs and projects now being enjoyed by Filipinos, especially low income families.

Defensor, official campaign spokesman for Mrs. Arroyo, particularly cited the housing, health care, supply of clean and potable water, electricity, job creation and other anti-poverty projects of the government.

"We believe the tandem of Mrs. Arroyo and Senator De Castro can do so much more not only in terms of reforms but also in unity and reconciliation," he stressed. — Marichu Villanueva

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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