JAWORSKI DENIES PLANS TO JOIN POE CAMP

MANILA, March 17, 2004
 
(STAR) Reelectionist Sen. Robert Jaworski strongly denied yesterday rumors that he will follow the footsteps of former administration ally Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. to support the presidential bid of Fernando Poe Jr.

Like the President’s allies, Jaworski charged that the opposition has become "desperate" in its plan to unseat Mrs. Arroyo in May, to the extent of resorting to "political intrigues."

"Spreading these false rumors and intrigues against me only shows how desperate the opposition camp has become. I am sticking with K-4 (Koalisyon ng Katapatan at Karanasan para sa Kinabukasan)," Jaworski told reporters. "There is no sense to jump ship in the middle of the campaign. Guingona’s defection has simply no effect on K-4."

In a statement, Jaworski belied any looming exodus of more allies of Mrs. Arroyo, who is seeking a full term in office, after Guingona announced over the weekend that he will serve as one of Poe’s advisers.

On the contrary, Jaworski said leading figures from the opposition were the ones abandoning Poe’s camp and declaring their support for the President’s bid in May.

The political leaders who switched sides were once allies of deposed President Joseph Estrada, Poe’s best friend.

Among them are Mayors Rodrigo Duterte of Davao City and Edward Hagedorn of Puerto Princesa City; former environment and natural resources secretary Antonio Cerilles; former governor Ito Ynares of Rizal, and Governors Tomas Joson of Nueva Ecija, Ningning Lazaro of Laguna and Faustino Dy of Isabela.

Jaworski, however, noted it was inaccurate to say that Guingona defected to the opposition camp since the Vice President resigned from the ruling administration Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) in October last year.

Jaworski said rumors apparently being peddled by the opposition were designed to counter improved ratings of the President and K-4’s senatorial bets in recent public opinion surveys.

"It is obvious that the opposition is on the defensive with the impressive performances in the popularity ratings of President Arroyo and the other K-4 candidates," said the senator who was a basketball icon for decades before joining politics.

Administration congressmen earlier labeled the opposition as "desperate" as it attempts to present to the public a unified opposition.

Shortly after Guingona accepted Poe’s invitation to be his adviser, the movie actor said a unification meeting will take place between him and another opposition bet, Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

The Poe-Lacson meet scheduled yesterday did not push through.

Jaworski echoed the statements of Mindanao congressmen that Guingona does not have the political clout to deliver votes for Poe in the south.

Representatives Mayo Almario of Davao Oriental, Isidro Real of Zamboanga del Sur, and Douglas Cagas and Benasing Macarambon of Lanao del Sur said Guingona has no following in Mindanao in contrast to Mrs. Arroyo, who is getting more support from "key figures" in the region.

Jaworski cited recent surveys where Mrs. Arroyo led her other rivals in Mindanao, proof of her impending victory in the southern Philippines. — Sammy Santos


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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