NEWSFLASH

ESTRADA CONFIDENT FPJ WILL RUN IN 2004

MANILA, January 3, 2003 (STAR) Jailed former President Joseph Estrada is confident his close friend and fellow movie actor Fernando Poe Jr. is running for president in the 2004 national elections.

Sources close to Estrada told The STAR that the fallen leader made the confirmation during a recent meeting with leaders of the opposition — in a gathering that included some of Estrada’s well-known friends.

"On the scale of 100 percent, I believe that 60 to 70 percent, Poe (also known as FPJ) will run as president in next year’s election," the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, quoted Estrada as saying.

The source said Estrada is also considering opposition Senators Panfilo Lacson and Edgardo Angara as leading alternative candidates to be the opposition’s standard bearer should Poe decide not to run.

Estrada was quoted as saying Lacson could capitalize on his good performance during his tenure as Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, during which time he was able to curb criminality — including "kidnappings, (carjackings), and eradicate the so-called kotong (mulcting) cops from the streets."

Estrada, according to the source, said it will never be a problem for him if Lacson becomes the opposition’s standard bearer, because the primary problem the country faces now is peace and order.

The ousted chief executive said that during Lacson’s stint as its chief, the PNP gained a high acceptance rating from the people, the source added.

"It is important that the next president has knowledge on how to create an atmosphere of peace in our country," Estrada was quoted as saying. "You cannot have economic growth without peace and order."

On the other hand, Estrada said Angara, who is also eyeing the presidency in 2004, also has the political savvy to make it in the national polls.

"Angara also has the political experience, having been there (in politics) for the past decades now," Estrada was quoted as saying. – Jose Rodel Clapano


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