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The Election in the Philippines

February 23, 1986

We are just now witnessing in the Philippines one of the worst tragedies that can befall a democracy--a nation in which the citizens themselves must protect the democratic process from the government. The Filipino people are trying to affect a change in government through a peaceful and just election.

The label freedom fighters is often applied to rebellious factions in an authoritarian country. Yet the truest freedom fighters of today are those Filipinos who are doing their utmost to safeguard the electoral process. Their actions are the modern-day equivalents of our own struggle for freedom in 1776.

In helping to establish their democracy after World War II, we sought to share with them the principles and ideas of our own founding. The Philippines became a Western-style democracy and a valued ally, through which we sought to project our military into the Far East theater.

However we must realize that this situation no longer exists. The Marcos government both denies its people their freedoms, and will be less and less able to protect our bases.

This travesty of an election must lead us to re-evaluate our position there. We can no longer consider ourselves the torchbearers of democracy, if we close our eyes and ears to this struggle for freedom.

THOMAS SCHLESINGER

Redondo Beach

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