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Love for campaigning pushes Philippines' opposition into election

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Filipinos, almost by nature, relish heated debate on politics. In fact, a mardi gras atmosphere prevailed in election campaigns before martial law began in 1972. Now that Ferdinand Marcos is under pressure to loosen his grip on the Philippines, temptations for dramatic campaigning are returning.

Those temptations have led yet another opposition group to announce it will participate in the May election for the National Assembly, despite a movement to boycott the vote.

The issue of a boycott, reasoned the Pilipino Democratic Party-Fight (PDP-Laban) when it decided Jan. 26 to join in the elections, ''is a divisive issue that lends itself to manipulation by (President) Marcos' regime.''

Anti-boycott advocates say Filipinos are not used to ''boycott ideology'' nor to any ideology during elections.

Whether true or not, the movement for a boycott has thinned out.

Another big opposition party, United Nationalist Democratic Organisation (UNIDO), also announced a participation move despite an earlier threat by most anti-Marcos groups to boycott if the President did not heed demands for safeguards for an honest election. Mr. Marcos ignored most of the opposition demands.

Boycott proponents, led by ex-senators Jose Diokno and Lorenzo Tanada, have argued that participation will ''legitimize the authoritarian regime'' of Marcos , and that clean and honest elections are impossible so long as he is in power. However, Tanada's and Diokno's followers represent new political movements and not political parties. Moreover, these movements were set up only after the assassination of opposition leader Benigno Aquino last August.

With PDP-Laban's decision to field candidates, Mr. Tanada, who is the party's chairman, has put in his resignation from the post.


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