LIPA CITY, March 25, 2004
"It is becoming a pattern," Sen. Panfilo Lacson said here Wednesday.

At least 1,000 barangay officials from the towns of San Juan and Rosario and this city were supposed to meet Wednesday with Lacson and his lone senatorial candidate Carlos Padilla.

Only about 400 barangay officials showed up for the lunch meeting at the residence of a local supporter.

According to sources from the city government, Sen. Ralph Recto and former Justice Secretary Hernando "Nani" Perez met with the barangay officials last Monday and "directed" them not to meet with Lacson.

The officials, divided in two groups, were told to go instead to the Calatagan and Lipa municipal halls, also for lunch meetings. They were promised P10,000 each, the sources said.

Lacson said this was not the first time local officials of areas he visited were diverted by Malacaņang to other affairs.

He said when he was in Bulacan and Zambales, local officials who were scheduled to meet with him were asked by Malacaņang to attend "conventions" or "seminars" somewhere else.

Last Tuesday, a Lacson supporter in La Union, Reynald Alhambra, was threatened and harassed by armed men aboard a truck last Tuesday.

The Lacson camp said the armed men, after tailing the provincial coordinator of the Ping for President Movement, tore down Lacson posters and streamers displayed at Alhambra's house in Patak, Sto. Tomas town in La Union.

Two hours later, the armed men told Alhambra's mother to tell her son to stop campaigning for Lacson.

Last week, a man posting Lacson campaign materials in Isabela was gunned down by unidentified men.

Lacson said that in Cagayan de Oro earlier this month, members of the Presidential Security Group were allegedly ordered by Jose Miguel Arroyo to tear down his posters.

In Manila, presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye denied the accusations.

He said even posters of President Arroyo suffer the same fate.

"I saw the MMDA people tearing down the posters of the President so there's no sabotage. I don't think so," Bunye said. (With Jocelyn Montemayor)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved