GMA NOT BACKING ANY CANDIDATE FOR ARMM POLLS
MANILA, August 9, 2005 (STAR) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is not backing any candidate for the elections in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said a top Palace official Monday.
In a statement, Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye declared outright, "The President has not endorsed any candidates in the ARMM elections."
"She believes in genuine autonomy founded on the freedom of choice exercised by the people themselves," Bunye said.
However, he added that, "Whoever is elected will get the full support of the President and the national government."
Residents of a self-governing Muslim-majority area in the southern Philippines voted for new leaders Monday in a poll boycotted by former Islamic separatists who had held power for nearly a decade.
More than a million residents are eligible to cast their ballots in the elections held every three years for a new governor, vice governor and 24 seats in the regional assembly.
The region encompasses the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur -- plus the city of Marawi.
It was granted self-rule in a 1996 peace treaty that ended the Moro National Liberation Front's (MNLF) decades-old armed secessionist campaign for the area, and has been ruled by the MNLF since then.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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