MANILA, March 26, 2004
Presidential candidate Raul Roco said Wednesday that he has reached out to Filipinos in about 25 cities halfway through the campaign period and that he is now ready to go to Malacañang.

Roco said he has shared meals with tricycle drivers and children in slum areas; comforted the bedridden and the handicapped; visited prisoners; commiserated with indigenous people, farmers and fisher folk; exchanged ideas with businessmen; and talked to women and students.

He added that everywhere he goes, he feels the pain of ordinary Filipinos, particularly the youth and the poor, since these two sectors are the most vulnerable to rampant corruption and failure in governance.

His campaign gaining momentum by the day, Roco said has already traveled to around 25 cities and provinces in a door-to-door campaign to reach out to every Filipino across the archipelago, including non-voters like schoolchildren.

Roco’s campaign manager, Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, said he will increase his efforts to reach out to people during the second half of the campaign.

"We are ready to go to Malacañang," Tan said. "The second half of the campaign efforts has been designed to do that."

Roco’s running mate, Herminio Aquino, has 15 years of service in the legislature, the executive and the local government surpasses the combined experience of his two rivals, Senators Noli de Castro and Loren Legarda.

Roco is also supported by the seven candidates who make up the Alyansa ng Pag-asa senatorial ticket: broadcaster Jay Sonza, human rights lawyer Frank Chavez, former governor Edno Joson, bowling champion Bong Coo, blind lawyer Nick Gatmaytan, free legal aid advocate Batas Mauricio, and former SEC chairman Perfecto Yasay.

In contrast to the guerilla campaign that characterized his 1998 presidential bid, this time Roco‘s campaign is well-organized and supported by volunteers from various sectors — youth groups, lawyers, docotrs, women, artists, entrepreneurs and health workers.

Roco urged the people to be vigilant and guard their ballots against the vote-shaving, intimidation and terrorism that many fear will disrupt the May elections.

He also said fears "that most of the voting shenanigans will come from Malacañang itself."

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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