SANTIAGO CITY, March 15, 2004
(STAR) Alyansa ng Pag-asa presidential candidate Raul Roco said yesterday he was "sad" over the decision of Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. to join the camp of Fernando Poe Jr.

Roco said he could not understand why Guingona endorsed the candidacy of the movie star who has yet to present a clear platform of government.

President Arroyo, on the other hand, said Guingona should now help Poe clarify his platform.

She also urged Guingona to encourage Poe to join debates with his rivals since "he (Poe) has an experienced adviser in the person of the Vice President."

Mrs. Arroyo, who is seeking a full six-year term in the May 10 elections, said Guingona must fulfill his role as an adviser to Poe and let the movie star participate in the presidential debate being organized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and concerned groups.

Poe is a high school dropout with no experience in government and his candidacy has unnerved the business community.

The actor has been presenting prominent figures as his advisers in an attempt to allay such concerns. Poe said he will not join the presidential debates because they are "too divisive."

Roco said Guingona should justify his decision in moving over to Poe’s camp since he is the founder of Bangon! (Rise!) reform movement which advocates reforms in governance.

"Tito (Guingona) is an old friend. We’ve been together in the 1971 Constitutional Convention. I know him to be a principled man," Roco said.

"I am really sad for him. I never expected him to reach that kind of decision (to go over to Poe)," he said.

Roco said Guingona should now explain to the people how his movement’s aims are in harmony with Poe’s Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP).

Guingona announced Saturday his support for Poe during a rally in Gingoog City, saying the movie star can "rebuild the nation."

Roco said earlier Guingona’s crossing over to Poe’s camp was "a very practical move."

Roco said he was surprised by Guingona’s switch to Poe’s camp, in the face of his previous advocacy. He said it could indicate that Guingona had moved on to the next "episode" of his life, from the idealistic to the pragmatic.

On the other hand, Guingona maintained it was his own decision to become Poe’s adviser.

Guingona said he would be Poe’s adviser on governance and public policy. He also agreed to become the actor’s adviser on foreign policy.

He said Poe has adopted his advocacy in Bangon! which prompted him to become the actor’s adviser.

"I gave him the essence of a program of action by our civic movement (Bangon!). He adopted the same and based on said program, I have humbly accepted to become his adviser," he said.

But on Day One of being Poe’s adviser, Guingona was busy defending himself from attacks.

Guingona yesterday denied reports of "very good concessions" which prompted to join the KNP.

He also denied reports that his wife, former Misamis Oriental governor Ruthie de Lara-Guingona, influenced him in his bolting the ruling party Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas) last year to join the opposition.

"Wala siyang pakialam sa naging desisyon ko (She has nothing to do with my decision)," Guingona said.

There were reports that one of the concessions was for the KNP to support Mrs. Guingona’s candidacy for mayor in Gingoog City and their son Teofisto III, who is running as representative in the second congressional district in Bukidnon.

"She has nothing to do with this," Guingona reiterated.

Guingona resigned as foreign secretary in 2002 over differences on foreign policy with Mrs. Arroyo.

Last year, he also quit Lakas in which he once served as party president, citing Mrs. Arroyo’s alleged unfulfilled reform promises. - Lito Salatan, Charlie Lagasca, Bong Fabe

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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