WASHINGTON – The Bush administration congratulated President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (search) on her election victory in the Philippines, but acknowledged that her opposition has not accepted the results.
A statement released Thursday by press secretary Scott McClellan did, however, laud "the successful conclusion of their presidential election."
"A joint session of the Philippine Congress officially proclaimed on June 23 that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had won the election, concluding a constitutional process that began with polling on May 10," the statement said.
Arroyo beat her closest rival, Fernando Poe Jr. (search), by 1.1 million votes — about 3 percentage points — but Poe's supporters claim the popular movie actor was cheated in the May 10 election. "We have not accepted this proclamation and we are not about to," former Sen. Francisco Tatad, a Poe ally, told diplomats and reporters.
McClellan's statement said: "We understand that some participants in the political process have raised questions about the results of the May 10 election. We commend the people of the Philippines for making use of established legal mechanisms and rejecting extralegal options for resolving their differences."
"The United States and the Philippines (search) have long maintained deep bonds of friendship," it said. "The government of the Philippines under President Macapal-Arroyo has been a strong leader and a steadfast ally in the global war on terrorism."
McClellan said the United States appreciates the Philippines' contribution "to the international effort to build a peaceful, free and independent Iraq. We look forward to strengthening our close cooperation with the government of the Philippines on these and other efforts to ensure the security and prosperity of our peoples."