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U.S. Observers to Be Barred at Philippine Polls

January 20, 1986|From Times Wire Services

MANILA — Philippine election officials today banned all foreigners from polling stations in next month's presidential elections--including teams of U.S. observers invited to watch for cheating.

The ban involves hundreds of foreign observers and correspondents. Officials said they could be jailed and deported if they go within 50 yards of any of the 90,000 polling stations on election day, Feb. 7.

President Ferdinand E. Marcos, fighting for reelection after 20 years in power, has invited foreign--and especially American--observers to watch on polling day to see that voting is "clean, fair and honest."

Meanwhile today, Cardinal Jaime Sin, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Manila, repeated charges that Marcos' government is preparing to use fraud to ensure a victory in the election.

'Cheating Machinery in Place'

"The machinery for cheating is in place," Sin said in a speech to a local Rotary Club.

Sin, the leading cleric in Asia's only predominantly Christian nation, accused the Marcos government of creating bogus voter registration lists and refusing to bar local officials from polling places who are "part and parcel" of the ruling party's election machinery.

"The track record of the present regime in conducting honest elections leaves much to be desired," he said. "We all know how the present administration rigged the series of referenda that legalized tyranny and gave the aura of respectability to the dictatorship."

First Lady Imelda Marcos, meanwhile, sought to counter reports that an ailment has forced her 68-year-old husband to limit his campaign sorties. Marcos is "much healthier now . . . he feels great," she told reporters after a speech today.

She did not explain what has been bothering the president, who campaigned today in Manila while Corazon Aquino, his main opponent in the Feb. 7 presidential election, sought support on the southern island of Mindanao.

Looked Tired, Limped

Marcos, who has been carried to rallies by aides in recent days and has been seen with a hand heavily bandaged, went to north Manila for a rally attended by 20,000 people, mostly slum dwellers. He looked tired and he limped as he walked 10 yards from his car to the stage.

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