MANILA, March 13, 2004
(STAR) With yet another candidate dead last week in Mindanao, the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) has condemned the killing or maiming of an ever increasing number of candidates and their supporters.

The KNP held the Arroyo administration responsible for its utter failure to curb the "blood, gore and mayhem" now dominating the runup to the May 10 polls.

They bewailed the Sunday killing of Isidro Soccoro, a former councilor and now mayoralty candidate in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur, who was the 6th candidate killed since the campaign season opened last December.

"If the rise in election-related violence continues unabated, President Arroyo must be blamed for frustrating the popular hope that the May elections will be clean, honest, orderly and peaceful," said senatorial candidate Didagen Dilangalen, one of two Muslim bets in the KNP ticket.

Dilangalen pointed to the official statistics released by the Philippine National Police on poll-related deaths, the most recent of which were the ambush of a congressional candidate in Mindoro island and the slaying of a mayoralty bet in the Visayas.

He also recalled the killing of the campaign chief of the Nationalist People’s Coalition’s mayoralty bet Chito Espino in Arayat, Pampanga, which happened 10 days before the campaign started.

Dilangalen said Mrs. Arroyo’s hands are full of politicking, "that’s why she could not ensure the safety of the electorate and the candidates."

He reminded the President about her promise to hold clean, honest, orderly and peaceful elections in May. "But with the rising cases of election-related violence, such promise has gone kaput," said Amina Rasul-Bernardo, former chairperson of the National Youth Commission.

"The valid concern raised by the National Movement on Free Elections, for example, over the safety of its volunteer poll watchers should prompt Malacañang to immediately address the alarming increase in poll-related deaths," Dilangalen said.

He lamented, however, Malacañang’s inability to prevent the rise of poll-related violence. This would embolden candidates to resort to killing to win in the polls, Bernardo said.

"It’s no wonder why Filipinos have lost their trust and confidence in government, which KNP standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. wants to restore," Dilangalen noted.

He said the return of public trust in government will help forge unity among the warring factions in society and thus carry out Poe’s action agenda designed to attack generational poverty, uphold the rule of law, stamp out corruption and ensure full transparency in all official dealings.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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