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Ramos: Vote wisely, the world is watching
The Philippine Star

Over 34 million registered voters are expected to troop to polling precincts today to elect the next president of the Republic, the vice president, lawmakers and more than 17,000 local officials.

President Fidel Ramos appealed to the people to go out and vote wisely, reminding the electorate that the world is watching.

In a televised appeal aired on the eve of the elections, the President called on voters to exercise their right to elect their future leaders freely, democratically and intelligently.

Vote in a way that will earn us the respect of the world, he said.  Each of us must do his or her part to ensure that the elections are conducted in a way that will manifest our democratic and constitutional system and make us proud of our political maturity as a nation.

Polling precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. in all areas of the country. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) expects to proclaim national winners in a week or two provided the counting,
which will be done manually, will not be interrupted.

The President hosted a breakfast forum attended by some of the presidential and vice presidential candidates at Malacanang yesterday.

Among those who attended were Vice President Joseph Estrada, Speaker Jose de Venecia, Sen. Raul Roco, former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and former Defense Secretary Renato de Villa.

Ramos told the group that the elections remain as the biggest test for him as the countrys chief executive before he ends his term on June 30.

As the present leader of this nation who has been working hard to bring our country to a place of respect and dignity in the community of nations, I have the biggest stake in the cleanliness and integrity of these elections, he said.

Ramos, elected in 1992 by a mere plurality of votes, is barred by the Constitution from seeking a second term.

If we pass these elections with flying colors that is, proving the unity and integrity of our people in probably the stiffest electoral exercise of our history they must just serve as the proverbial bridge that will draw us nearer the full realization of our vision of a peaceful and prosperous nation, the President added.

And the Chief Executive assured the candidates that his government will never resort to cheating, saying he will work to ensure that the will of the electorate as reflected in the results of the elections will prevail.

We will do everything possible to make sure that the elections will be clean, credible, orderly and peaceful and that the real will of the people shall prevail, the President said.

This is my commitment to you, the final fulfillment of my promise of people empowerment, he added.

The President warned voters against making a mistake in choosing their leaders.   Kapag nagkamali tayong maghalal ng isang hindi karapat-dapat na pangulo, ang ating bansa ay bubulusok sa bangin ng kapahamakan at tiyak na magdurusa ang ating mga anak (If we err in electing an unfit president, the nation will surely plunge into the depths of desolation and surely our children will bear the pain), Ramos said.

The President has actively campaigned for De Venecia and the rest of the ruling Lakas party ticket, even joining motorcades in the scorching heat.

De Venecia, a provincemate of the President, is considered one of the major architects of the Ramos administrations economic reforms. Estrada, however, is considered the front-runner in the
presidential race.

The President and First Lady Amelita Ramos will fly this morning to Asingan, Pangasinan to cast their votes at the Angela Valdez Elementary School there.

The Presidents sister, former Sen. Leticia Ramos-Shahani, is running for governor in their home province.

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