Statement on the Presidential Election in the Philippines

February 15, 1986

We have followed with great interest and concern the Presidential and Vice Presidential elections in the Philippines. As the Philippines is a close friend and ally, what happens to this nation and its people is of great importance to the United States. While maintaining strict neutrality in these elections, we have consistently urged that the process be a fair and credible one leading to a government with the strongest possible mandate. The elections were marked by heartening evidence of the continuing commitment of the Filipino people to the democratic process and the furtherance of a two-party system, which should strengthen that process in the future.

Although our observation delegation has not yet completed its work, it has already become evident, sadly, that the elections were marred by widespread fraud and violence perpetrated largely by the ruling party. It was so extreme that the election's credibility has been called into question both within the Philippines and in the United States. At this difficult juncture, it is imperative that all responsible Filipinos seek peaceful ways to effect stability within their society and to avoid violence, which would benefit only those who wish to see an end to democracy. Both sides must work together to make those reforms which are needed to ensure a stable democracy, a truly professional military, and a healthy economy.

Our hearts go out to the people of the Philippines. They are at a major crossroads in their history. We are proud of our long association with them and very proud of their passionate devotion to democracy. There are no easy answers. And in the last analysis, they will have to find the solutions themselves. But they will have our help -- in any way we can.