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Democratic message to Marcos

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NO matter how the final vote in this week's legislative elections in the Philippines turns out, there can no longer be any doubt: Given a choice, millions of Filipinos eagerly want a speedy return to a more democratic society.

The election results - in which opposition candidates scored significant gains - should impel the United States to do everything it can to encourage the ruling government of President Ferdinand Marcos to loosen the grip his regime has imposed on the Philippine people.

Final election results, as of this writing, are still incomplete. The government party is still expected to control the National Assembly - in large part because it did particularly well throughout the Philippine countryside, away from the TV cameras and the presence of foreign observers. A pro-Marcos countryside vote was not unexpected. Neither was the prospect of ballot tampering and other acts of election fraud reported from many polling places, since the the government's ruling New Society Movement obviously had much at stake in retaining control of the National Assembly.

What is far more significant, however, is the extent of the opposition vote recorded in the urban centers. There will now be a sizable opposition element right within the Assembly itself - far larger than the 13 or so seats held by the opposition in the previous Assembly. And there can be little doubt but that the opposition means to be heard, and to play an increasingly direct role in governmental affairs.

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