MANILA, December 1, 2003  (MALAYA) FINALLY, Fernando Poe Jr. announced yesterday at the Champagne Room of the Manila Hotel that he is running for president against President Arroyo in 2004.

It is clear that FPJ will be the opposition candidate for the simple reason that President Arroyo is the Lakas administration candidate.

It is expected that sooner or later, Sen. Ping Lacson will give way to FPJ with many of his present political and financial backers led by President Erap persuading him to sacrifice and help unify the opposition.

So it is at least a minimum of three candidates, FPJ, GMA and Raul Roco will slug it out.

But wait, there is a recent report that Sen. Noli de Castro and three other senators of the Wednesday group are joining the Liberal Party who now count with Senate President Frank Drilon and Sen. Francis Pangilinan. It is bruited about that the LP will field a Noli de Castro-Frank Drilon team anytime next week.

Now the hard work for FPJ and his leaders begin. Unlike in previous elections when the presidential candidate files his certificate 90 days before the elections, the local candidates' deadline is 45 days before.

Now the presidential candidates, particularly FPJ, have just a few weeks to decide and nominate about 17,000 candidates for congressmen, governors, mayors and other local candidates.

Since the FPJ camp has said it will not align itself with any political party, what will be his policy with regards to local candidates? What will be his campaign organization?

It is elementary that a viable presidential candidate must have a complete lineup from vice president and senators down to municipal councilor level.


The Nationalist Peoples Coalition will meet on Dec. 5 to decide on its presidential nominee. All options are open including deferring the decision to after Jan. 2, 2004 when the list of declared presidential candidates who have formally filed their certificates of candidacy is finalized.

But if I am asked to predict, it seems to me that the NPC will support somebody other than President Arroyo.

But the bigger question mark is astrologers' predictions that there will be no elections in May, 2004.

It is significant that some sectors have already called for postponement of the elections. Even more significant is GMA's consistent announcement of destabilization plots.

But now people are asking, if there will be another destabilization effort, will it be opposition-backed, or will it be in a coup from the center to prevent FPJ from actually being voted in by a winning majority?

Will the likes of Corpus, Golez, Reyes, Ebdane, Berroya, Matillano allow FPJ to become president? Will the other factions in the AFP allow this pro-GMA group to do their thing?


The business sector has been making critical noises against FPJ like they did when Erap declared his candidacy.

But when it becomes clear that FPJ will win, expect all of them to make a beeline to FPJ's door in the same way they did in April, 1998 when the surveys showed Erap way ahead.


Only Sen. Tito Sotto was the lone politician present at FPJ's presscon yesterday. He admitted that he was with FPJ up to 4 a.m. the day before when the decision to announce was finally made.

It is clear that Sen. Tito Sotto will be the campaign manager for FPJ's campaign. Tito has run and won as vice mayor of Quezon City and he has had two terms in the Senate. He is highly qualified to be FPJ's campaign manager. The important factor here is he has FPJ's full trust and confidence.

One thing sure, Tito will have 80 percent of the actors and actresses led by Dolphy campaigning with him. Maybe only Bong Revilla, Ramon Revilla and Nora Aunor will stay with GMA.

Where will Sampaguita Pictures heiress Gina de Venecia go? Let us wait and see.


Right from the announcement, it is very evident that Susan Roces Poe will be an asset to FPJ's campaign.

Not only is she well loved and respected, she has the advantage of being a Visayan from Negros Occidental.

No doubt Susan Roces Poe will be a very gracious First Lady.


Senator Ping Lacson was easily available to all radio and TV stations yesterday. He was consistent in saying FPJ cannot be the opposition candidate because he is not a member of any opposition party.

He was very adamant in predicting that he will still be the LDP presidential candidate.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved