PALACE COOL TO ACCORD BARRING USE OF PUBLIC FUNDS IN CAMPAIGN

MANILA, March 29, 2004
 
(STAR)
Malacañang has refused to say if President Arroyo will join other candidates in signing an agreement not to use government funds in the elections.

However, Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said candidate Raul Roco had the wrong premise when he challenged Mrs. Arroyo to sign the agreemen,t since the Chief Executive is an incumbent who continues to govern while campaigning. "Even in other countries there are incumbent presidents who are also running and they go ahead with their governance," he said.

Bunye said Mrs. Arroyo will continue to perform her duties as president in spite of the various disqualification cases filed against her.

"But what is important is the benefit of our countrymen," he said. "What are the services that they are expecting? The programs that can’t be suspended even during the campaign period."

Bunye said this is the first election since 1986 that a sitting president is campaigning, and this has resulted in legal questions. As long as public funds are being used for public purposes, there is no violation of the law, Bunye added.

Roco, a former education secretary and senator, has called on the other presidential candidates, particularly Mrs. Arroyo, to disclose the amount of public money being used in their campaign.

In Baguio City, independent presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he supports Roco’s call for all presidential candidates to sign an agreement not to use government funds.

Roco’s proposal is the best way to prevent Mrs. Arroyo from using government funds to advance her presidential campaign, he added.

Lacson said of the five presidential candidates, Mrs. Arroyo is the only one "guilty" of using government funds. "There is only one presidential candidate who is guilty of using government funds for the campaign, that is the administration standard-bearer President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo," he said. — Marvin Sy, Jose Rodel Clapano


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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