1,500 RIOT COPS READY FOR FPJ SUPPORTERS

METRO MANILA, February 18, 2004 (STAR) Manila police yesterday mobilized some 1,500 fully trained crowd dispersal policemen in anticipation of anti-government rallies being planned by supporters of presidential hopeful Fernando Poe Jr. if ever he is disqualified from running by the Supreme Court.

Western Police District (WPD) director Chief Superintendent Pedro Bulaong said majority of the contingent shall be deployed to the Chino Roces bridge and the Supreme Court.

He, however, ordered his men to observe maximum tolerance dealing with the rallyists.

"We respect their right to free expression, but we cannot sacrifice the peace and order situation in the city in case the rallyists get out of control," Bulaong said during the presentation of the police contingent at the Rizal Park yesterday morning.

Newspapers had earlier quoted Poe as telling a huge crowd during a campaign sortie in Bataan last week that his critics will not "see the light of day" if they continue to press for his disqualification.

Bulaong shot back at Poe’s supporters by saying, "let us see who will not see the light of day."

The WPD chief said the police has an obligation to protect the citizenry against trouble makers, adding "chaos is not allowed under a civilized society."

For his part, WPD spokesman Gerry Agunod said the battle-ready contingent shall also be deployed in repressive patrols on vital government installations especially the Pandacan oil depot.

The Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision on the citizenship issue of Poe anytime this week. – Nestor Etolle

QUEZON CITY: EX-BEAUTY QUEEN'S HEALTH SPA RAZED BY FIRE (STAR) February 18, 2004

A health spa owned by former beauty queen and commercial model Sara Jane Paez was struck by fire after midnight yesterday morning in Quezon City.

The fire at the Lifestlye Spa located at the corner of Malamig and Matahimik streets in Teacher’s Village, Diliman, started around 1:12 a.m. Tuesday, according to Capt. Samuel Tadeo, chief arson investigator of the Quezon City Fire Department.

No one was reported killed or injured in the incident, authorities said. Damage was estimated at P3 million.

Firemen declared a fire-out at about 1:57 a.m.

Initial investigation showed that the fire broke out at the ground floor of the two-story health spa. It was the only portion of the establishment affected by fire.

Three other apartment units were also spared from damage.

Tadeo said Paez, the 1989 Binibining Pilipinas-Universe, could not shed light on the incident since "she was still in shock."

Nevertheless, fire investigators said they are not discounting the possibility that faulty electrical wiring caused the fire. – Katherine Adraneda, Cecille Suerte Felipe


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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