Philippine Candidate Ends Hunger Strike

MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO ended her hunger strike yesterday at the urging of the Archbishop of Manila as she regained second place in the race for the presidency.

Her husband said she had urged President Bush to join her in a statement against alleged electoral fraud in the Philippines.

The Philippine Congress must proclaim a new president and vice president by June 30, when President Corazon Aquino's six-year term ends, or risk a constitutional crisis or military takeover.

With most of the votes tabulated, Mrs. Aquino's candidate, former Defense Secretary Fidel Ramos, held a commanding lead.

Media Citizens Quick Count, the government-authorized tabulation service, said Mr. Ramos was leading yesterday with 4,089,321 votes, or 24 percent, with more than 73 percent of the votes counted.

Mrs. Santiago trailed in second with 18 percent, followed by Eduardo Cojuangco, a Ferdinand Marcos ally, with 17.87 percent.

The anti-graft crusader began a "fast until death if necessary" on Saturday because of alleged corruption in the Philippine election.

In a statement yesterday, Santiago said she had been persuaded by Cardinal Jaime Sin, Archbishop of Manila, to end the fast "because she cannot fight graft and corruption any more if she is weak."

Santiago's husband, Narciso, said his wife wrote to President Bush last week urging him to join her in a statement affirming the need for free and fair elections to preserve democracy in this former United States colony.

Bush, however, did not reply, Mr. Santiago said. "We just want to impress on world leaders that if somebody like [Bush] will be showing interest in free and honest elections, that can be a strong argument against cheating in the Philippines," he said.

Washington played an active role in the 1986 race between Aquino and Marcos, including quiet assistance to opposition groups seeking to end Marcos' 20-year rule.

Marcos was ousted in a popular uprising two weeks after the fraud-marred election and died in 1989 in exile in Hawaii.

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