MANILA, March 10, 2004
(STAR) By Nikko Dizon - An alliance between Fernando Poe Jr. and Panfilo Lacson could still be sealed even after the latter had shut out unification talks with the standard-bearer of the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP).

Poe told reporters yesterday his communication lines with Lacson remained open for them to discuss unifying the opposition before the May 10 presidential elections.

"It’s still open," Poe said in an interview after the launching of the Kilos para sa Bagong Umaga movement at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City.

"The most important thing is that the opposition is united. We always need the support of everyone," he said.

Earlier, Poe said he will meet with Lacson on the first week of next month, but that they had not yet set any specific agenda.

On the other hand, former representative Mike Romero, KNP spokesman, said they are hopeful that everything will turn out well and the opposition would become united.

"We will exhaust all efforts to unite," he said in a telephone interview.

"(Senator Lacson) should not forget that he still has a formal meeting with FPJ in April. Nothing is final yet. As far as FPJ and Mr. Lacson are concerned, there is still an agreement between them to talk."

Considering the vast resources of the Arroyo administration, the opposition has to unite to be able to win the elections on May 10 and for Poe to get to Malacañang, he added.

Meanwhile, pro-administration Rep. Prospero Pichay of Surigao del Sur said he has "A-1 information" that Lacson would give way to Poe sometime before the presidential elections on May 10.

"In the meantime, the two have agreed to adopt a good-cop, bad-cop strategy, where Lacson would have the responsibility of conducting a smear campaign against President Arroyo in an attempt to reverse her rise in the poll survey ratings," he said.

"Poe, on the parallel side, would conduct a relatively more high-road campaign to keep his hands unsullied by muck-raking. The talks are in a highly advanced stage, with the only things to be finalized are the concessions being asked by the Lacson camp."

Pichay, in a statement, said talks to bring together Poe and Lacson to form a united opposition are being brokered by people close to ousted President Joseph Estrada.

In the end, Mrs. Arroyo would emerge victorious on May 10 as the administration’s machinery would give her a "comfortable margin" against Poe, Pichay added.

Earlier, Lacson told reporters he and House Minority Leader Carlos Padilla, his lone senatorial candidate, have decided that they will pursue "our campaign, advocacy and crusade for good governance" until May 10, and that an alliance with Poe is no longer possible.

"We’ve reached a point where there’s no more turning back," he said. "Let the people decide who is the best presidential candidate who can lead the country out of its present trouble."

Lacson said the scheduled one-on-one meeting with Poe "on or before April 15" will no longer take place.

His campaign is a combination of "a quest for the highest office and an advocacy and crusade for good governance," he added.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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