WARRING KNP SUPPORTERS MAKE FPJ SKIP SORTIE IN MARAWI

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, March 18, 2004  (STAR) By Paolo Romero - Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. canceled for the second time his campaign sortie in Marawi City because of possible violence between two groups of KNP supporters.

KNP vice-presidential bet Sen. Loren Legarda and KNP re-electionist Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said "local problems" forced Poe to cancel his Marawi City campaign. Poe was scheduled to visit the city on Thursday last week.

"There’s bad blood between two groups claiming to be KNP," Pimentel said. "Their support for FPJ is so strong they want to grab credit for receiving him but there’s a threat of bloodshed."

Sen. Vicente Sotto III, KNP campaign manager, identified the leaders of the feuding groups as Abu Muhammad Saranggani and Acmad Tomawis.

Saranggani is running for governor of Lanao del Norte under the Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), while Tomawis, KNP regional chairman for Lanao del Norte, is supporting the gubernatorial bid of Farouk Kali.

Sotto said that the two are feuding over who should receive Poe at the airport and emcee the rally in the city.

He said the feud took a turn for the worse when Saranggani reportedly sent a V-150 armored personnel carrier to the residence of Tomawis and had its gun aimed at the latter’s house.

Tomawis reportedly responded by tearing down the streamers and posters of Saranggani at the rally stage which the former set up.

Sotto said the claims of the two factions have yet to be arbitrated. Sen. Edgardo Angara heads the KNP committee that arbitrates on local candidates.

"We decided not to push through (to Marawi City) as the situation might worsen," Sotto said.

But Legarda proceeded to Marawi City aboard a helicopter to meet the prominent families who in 1992 bestowed on her the title of a Maranao princess, "Bai Alabi Macalangcap," which translates as "the knowledgeable one."

"I cannot decline the invitation of my close friends," Legarda said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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