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Last Updated: Monday, 6 June, 2005, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK
Arroyo fights poll fraud claims
By Sarah Toms
BBC News, Manila

Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye displays a CD, left, which he claimed was a wiretapped cell phone call between President Arroyo and an election official, 06/06/2005.
Spokesman Ignacio Bunye played the recording to the media
Philippines President Gloria Arroyo has released a tape she says the opposition doctored to support claims that she won last year's election fraudulently.

The opposition has called repeatedly for the tape to be played in public. Now it has been aired to the media by a presidential spokesman.

In it, Mrs Arroyo can be heard apparently pressing the election commission head to alter the tally.

The president says she did nothing of the sort.

The president's spokesman said the conversation had been altered and dismissed the tape as the latest attempt by the opposition to destabilise the government.

Still, Monday's allegations come at a difficult time for President Arroyo.

Her ratings have slumped to a record low amid accusations that members of her family have taken pay-offs from illegal gambling syndicates. They deny any involvement.

Filipinos are also angry about rising prices and persistent corruption.

In the recording, Mrs Arroyo allegedly asks the election official if her lead could fall below one million votes during the count from the 2004 election.

The official says her lead had fallen but that some wards had still to be counted. The official then says "we will do our best".

The final election tally gave President Arroyo a winning margin of more than one million votes over her strongest rival, Fernando Poe Jr.

Mr Poe, an action movie hero, died late last year, but the opposition has not abandoned its claims that he was cheated of victory.


SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Arroyo inauguration
30 Jun 04 |  In Pictures
Profile: Gloria Arroyo
20 Jun 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Reforms key to Arroyo's new term
24 Jun 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: The Philippines
21 Dec 03 |  Country profiles


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