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Aquino Pledges to Investigate Arroyo

  • Luke Hunt

Begnino "Noynoy" Aquino, who is on track to become the next president of the Philippines following last Monday's elections, has pledged investigations will be held into the conduct of the outgoing leader Gloria Arroyo.

Mr. Aquino has promised to look into alleged cases of corruption under Ms. Arroyo, whose nine-year administration has been marred by graft scandals.

There have been allegations of vote-rigging, on the part of Ms. Arroyo.

She is suspected of being the voice in a telephone recording of a woman appearing to press an election official into ensuring the 2004 vote count remained in her favor.

Many of Mr. Aquino's supporters voted for him on the basis that an investigation would be launched.

For supporters like 28-year-old Nester Cruz, part of this country's emerging middle classes, Mr. Aquino's political bloodlines made such a probe all the more likely.

"I think Nonoy Aquino, because of the ability of his mother of Corozon Aquino, the former president of the Philippines the first lady president in the Philippines – because it's already written in the book that Aquino has a good knowledge and has a heart and political will," Cruz said.

Mr. Aquino is the son of former President Cory Aquino, a revered figure in the Philippines after she rose to power and cracked down on corruption following the assassination of her husband and opposition leader, Begnino senior.

Mr. Aquino's pledge came as the outgoing leader appointed an ally to post of chief justice of the Supreme Court – the highest judicial position in the country – which critics argue could be a move by Ms. Arroyo to help protect herself from any future charges.

A spokesman for Ms. Arroyo says she welcomes any probe as this would provide her with the opportunity to clear the air of allegations that have dogged her presidency.

Meanwhile, Mr. Aquino appears to have extended his lead over the former President Joseph Estrada and rags to riches businessman Manny Villar.

Latest counting showed Mr. Aquino had won more than 40 percent of the vote, with Mr. Estrada on 25 percent. Villar has conceded defeat.

Estrada's fortunes have shown a marked turnaround. He was ousted by a coup in 2001, jailed for corruption and later pardoned by Arroyo.

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