Opinion poll puts Arroyo ahead

Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has pulled ahead of her main rival in Monday's election, the latest opinion poll has suggested.

The poll, by research firm Pulse Asia, predicted that Ms Arroyo would win 37% of the vote compared to 31% for former film star Fernando Poe Junior.

A similar poll last month showed Mrs Arroyo had only a 3% lead.

Filipinos vote on 10 May to decide the president, half the Senate, the House of Representatives and local posts.

Some 1,800 voters were interviewed between April 26 to 29 to give the results of the latest Pulse Asia survey.

Correspondents say Mrs Arroyo looks set to remain in power, despite the limited success of the fiscal and social reforms she has put in place during her three years in office so far.

The other presidential contenders are trailing far behind Ms Arroyo and Mr Poe.

The latest poll gave former police chief Panfilo Lacson 11%, while former education secretary Raul Roco slipped to 7% and television evangelist Eddie Villanueva only managed 5%.

Security concerns

The armed forces have been placed on high alert ahead of the polls.

More than 80 people are reported to have died so far during the campaign - deaths which have been blamed on political squabbles between armed gangs.

But the biggest fear is an attack by Muslim or communist extremists.

Armed forces chief General Narciso Abaya warned that there was no sure way of preventing an attack by the militant group Abu Sayyaf.

"We have made a number of arrests and we have confiscated a number of explosives, but there is no 100% guarantee that we have arrested all of them," Mr Abaya said, according to the French news agency AFP.

President Gloria Arroyo cancelled final campaigning in the south of the country over fears of an assassination attempt.

"The threats on the president's life are real and nobody is taking any chances as the nation prepares to vote," said her spokesman Ignacio Bunye.

05/05/2004

Bron : BBC World

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