In an attempt to defuse a rancorous campaign and prevent post-election violence, the top two contenders in the May 10 presidential election have signed an agreement to support the winner. Some 84 people have been killed in election-related violence in what some analysts have called the most bitter campaign since the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. Whether supporters of the losing side will honor the pledge taken by their leader is hard to predict. In recent polls, incumbent President Gloria Arroyo leads her rival, film star Fernando Poe, by a slim margin.
The island of Mindanao in the far south remains risky for travelers. Bombings have killed many and injured hundreds in the past year, and the U.S. State Department reports it continues to receive information that bombings may occur at airports, seaports and against commercial shipping or passenger vessels in Mindanao and other areas. Terrorist and insurgent groups are active here, and the islands of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Jolo in the Sulu archipelago should be avoided.