MANILA,  JUNE 15, 2004
Reciting from the Bible, President Arroyo urged newly proclaimed elective officials yesterday to "turn their other cheek" instead of taking revenge against their defeated foes.

"And I think the message to us officials, is that elections are over, it is not time for revenge against our opponents and those who are very cruel to us," she said.

"But rather to hand out again the offer of peace and unity."

Speaking in Ilonggo after administering the oath of office to Iloilo Gov. Neil Tupas and other newly elected officials, Mrs. Arroyo said the last elections have been generally peaceful, clean, and credible despite the opposition’s persistent claims to the contrary.

"Because we had a clean and honest elections, this resounded the quality of our democracy," she said.

"The voting is over. But there are still some groups that do not like to end the canvassing (of votes for president and vice president in Congress).

"But let us leave that to the joint house of Congress and the Senate under the leadership of one from Iloilo, Senate President Franklin Drilon and the leader of our canvassing committee," the President said.

Before the mass oath-taking Mrs. Arroyo, accompanied by Drilon and Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman, attended a Mass celebrated by Iloilo Bishop Angel Lagdameo at Jaro Cathedral

At Malacañang, Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said there was nothing wrong with Mrs. Arroyo’s action of swearing into office the newly elected Iloilo officials.

"These are ceremonies that acknowledge the victory of some of the political leaders, and these are well within her prerogatives, and any sitting president could act and perform the function of a president within a term," he said.

"So we don’t see anything wrong with these activities. She is doing these as incumbent president. Frankly, we don’t see any problem as far as this activity is concerned," Bunye said.

Mrs. Arroyo also went to Bacolod City to administer the oath of office to her brother-in-law, Ignacio Arroyo who won as congressman for the city, and other newly elected officials.

Thereafter, Mrs. Arroyo sought spiritual consolation at the Carmelite Monastery in the city.

Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella said Mrs. Arroyo will pray for a peaceful end of canvassing at Congress so the country can be united again.

Mrs. Arroyo flew to the city yesterday after witnessing the oath-taking of officials from the provinces of Iloilo, Antique, and Guimaras at Jaro Cathedral.

Upon her arrival, Mrs. Arroyo immediately proceeded to the monastery.

Puentevella said Mrs. Arroyo stayed at the tarmac for barely two minutes.

Mrs. Arroyo is expected to swear into office Puentevella for a second term at the historic Rizal Elementary School today in Bacolod.

Negros Occidental and Bacolod City gave Mrs. Arroyo 584,923 votes during the last election or a lead of 249,953 over her closest rival, Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino candidate Fernando Poe Jr., who garnered 334,970 votes. — Marichu Villanueva, Antonieta Lopez

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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