KORONADAL CITY, March 16, 2004
(STAR) By Ramil Bajo - Candidates in South Cotabato have agreed to conduct a peaceful 45-day campaign and have clean and honest elections on May 10.

This was one of the provisions of an accord signed yesterday by 38 candidates who attended an orientation sponsored by the provincial Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The covenant, entitled "Candidates’ Manifesto," binds the signatories not to corrupt voters with money and to conduct their campaigns under the spirit of good grace and friendly rivalry.

Each signatory pledged to refrain from the use of guns, goons and gold to promote his or her candidacy.

Lawyer Faisal Diaz Tanjili, provincial Comelec supervisor, expressed optimism that the covenant would lead to a peaceful campaign period and elections.

"Signing the manifesto proves that the candidates here are sincere enough to have peaceful, clean and honest elections," Tanjili said.

Aglipayan church leaders back GMA  (Manila Bulletin) March 16, 2004

PANABO CITY, Davao del Norte —President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo yesterday gained the support and prayers of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Aglipayan Church) Mindanao Archdiocesan Council for her presidential bid in the May polls.

Local government officials of the province likewise echoed the support for the President, administration standard bearer of the K-4 coalition, in the coming elections.

Mrs. Arroyo flew to this province past noon for a two-day campaign along with her running mate Sen. Noli De Castro and a number of K-4 senatorial bets.

In the Mindanao-wide consultative conference held at the Sta. Clara Resort here, Archbishop Felicito Aguisando led the Aglipayans’ pledge of support for a six-year term for the President and prayed for her victory.

"To our beloved President Arroyo, we humbly present to you a copy of our pledge of support for your candidacy and to each candidates of the administration party," Aguisando said.

In the "Benediction Prayers" ceremony, over 50 Aglipayan priests prayed over the President, who held a lighted candle and a Bible.

In her brief remarks before some 500 church members, the President emphasized her three-point agenda for peace and development in Mindanao.

She said it is imperative to have constitutional amendments for a federal form of government to pave the way for speedy and stable economic progress of the country’s known fruit basket.

It also includes the social justice advocacy for the multi-ethnic society in Southern Philippines to assure the preservation and protection of the rich cultures of the minorities along with increasing economic activity in this part of the country.

Unlike other provinces in Mindanao, the Davao provinces are dominated by Catholics, followed by a small number of Protestants and Muslims.

After the rally, the President and her party motored to Tagum City where she attended the local Women’s Day celebrations and later signed into law House Bill 6562 creating the municipality of San Isidro in the province of Davao del Norte.

It includes barangays Sawata, Sabangan, Mamangan, Sto. Nino, Igangon, and Kipalili from the munipality of Asuncion and barangays Dacudao, Datu Balong, Libuton, Pinamuno, Monte Dujali, Lina, and San Miguel from the town of Kapaflong.

San Isidro will have its seat of municipal government in barangay Sawata.

The President and the rest of the K-4 coalition bets held a political rally before a big crowd at the Tagum Trade Center in Poblacion. She was accompanied in the program by her running-mate Sen. Noli de Castro, Davao del Norte Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario, Panabo City Mayor Rey Gavina, and Tagum City Mayor Gelacio Gementiza.

Last night, she attended the coronation of the Mutya ng Davao at the nearby CAP auditorium here.

Today, the President will join local revelers for the "Araw ng Davao" parade, followed by a motorcode to the city of Digos. Later this afternoon, she will launch the Mindanao Lumad for GMA Movement at Camp Alano, Toril, Davao City.

Before returning to Manila, she will join the Baptist Phils, Inc., in its Mindanao-wide conference at the Felis Resort Complex in Davao City.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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