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Reagan to Send Vote Watchers to Philippines

January 24, 1986|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — President Reagan will send an official delegation to monitor next month's controversial presidential election in the Philippines with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) as the chairman, Lugar's office said today.

Secretary of State George P. Shultz telephoned Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today to say "the President would be happy to have Lugar lead the delegation," said Lugar Press Secretary Mark Helmke.

He said Lugar will work with the State Department to put together a delegation of observers in the coming days.

Earlier today, Lugar announced that despite serious misgivings about potential election abuses, he was willing to lead the official delegation of American observers to the Feb. 7 presidential election in the Philippines.

He said he had concluded that "it would be a serious mistake for the United States not to demonstrate its support for democracy in the Philippines" and that the presence of observers would fulfill that role.

Toughest Challenge

President Ferdinand E. Marcos is facing what appears to be his toughest challenge in his 20 years of rule from opposition candidate Corazon Aquino, and there has been concern both in the Administration and Congress that he might try to rig the election.

Lugar told a news conference that there is no way the observers can know whether the election is fair or not, although he said it will watch for abuses.

While he said he has "serious reservations" about the fairness of the election, he added that the election machinery in the Philippines is adequate to give "some reasonable chance of having a good election."

"The question is whether there is the political will to make it work and make it work right," Lugar said.

He acknowledged that many members of Congress are shunning being included on the delegation.

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