MANILA, February 19, 2004 (STAR) ROSES AND THORNS By Alejandro R. Roces - Three presidential candidates have been reported in the press as saying that they would vote for any of the presidential candidates except President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. To us this simply means that they fully realize that the only way that they can possibly win this coming presidential election is by defeating the incumbent. She is the person all the other presidential candidates want to replace. They all want to be what she already is, President of the Republic of the Philippines. The great number of presidential candidates, for instance, will work in GMAís favor. Voters generally vote for the incumbent or against the incumbent. If they vote against, the votes will definitely be divided by all the other candidates. It is as simple and obvious as that.

Admittedly, a candidate who enjoys tremendous popularity with the masses is the Box-office King Fernando Poe, Jr. But he has yet to hurdle the question as to whether he is even qualified to run for the presidency or not. We are not talking of his educational qualifications because, as everyone knows, he has not even finished high school. We are talking of whether he meets the constitutional provisions that only natural-born Filipinos can run for the presidency. Frankly, we donít agree with this constitutional provision, but the Constitution must be followed to the letter. We will know in a matter of days the Supreme Courtís decision on this important question and we are pleased that Fernando Poe, Jr. himself has announced that he would abide by whatever the Supreme Courts decides.

Some of his misguided admirers have said that if the Supreme Court decision disqualifies him from seeking the presidential race, they would take to the streets. That would be absolutely senseless and we are certain that FPJ himself would be the very first to dissuade his followers from taking such a step.

Poe said that the main problem that we have to face is food on the table. He, of course, meant jobs that will enable the people to provide not only food on the table, but a roof on their heads and education for their children. One thing Poe has is that he has not lost the common touch and has no problem relating to the masses. He also has a very big asset in his wife, Jesusa Sonora, who carries the screen name Susan Roces. She comes from a very good family and we have known and admired her for years. As a matter of fact, she campaigned hard for me when I unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in the sixties. We would go as far as to say that she would make a perfect First Lady.

But Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is way ahead of all candidates in this coming May election.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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