With the inauguration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on June 30th, the Philippines brings its latest presidential election process to a successful conclusion and once again shows the strength of its democracy. The election on May 10th was hotly contested. When the votes were in, Mrs. Arroyo had defeated her opponent, Fernando Poe, Junior, by a million votes out of more than thirty-million cast. On June 23rd, the Philippine Congress officially proclaimed that Mrs. Arroyo had been elected.
Opposition groups submitted a challenge to the results to the Philippine Supreme Court, but their petition was rejected. As a White House statement put it, the people of the Philippines made use of “established legal mechanisms and [rejected] extra-legal options for resolving their differences.”
Philippine President Arroyo is faced with a number of issues. Rising crime and concerns about security have had a negative impact on tourism and foreign investment. The Philippines faces threats from insurgents on the southern island of Mindanao, as well as terrorism by both Muslim extremists and Communist groups.
After a hard-fought election campaign, President Arroyo has called for reconciliation:
“To my detractors, I appeal for unity. To my supporters, I appeal for an open mind. This is a time for forgiveness and letting go of the past.”
The U.S. and the Philippines have long had a close relationship. The Philippines is an active participant in the global war against terrorism. The U.S. looks forward to strengthening its close cooperation with the Philippines to promote the security and prosperity of both countries.