CEBU CITY, March 27, 2004
By Nikko Dizon — Former press secretary Rod Reyes confirmed here yesterday he was offered P5 million to resign as media bureau chief of the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) and join the administration camp.

Reyes said the offer was made through an intermediary whom he did not identify.

Aside from the cash offer, Reyes said the intermediary also mentioned the possibility of his getting back the portfolio of chief of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taipei.

"I won’t deny that," Reyes said.

When told that the offer was a big amount to refuse, Reyes replied: "I can’t turn my back on FPJ" — referring to KNP standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr.

Reyes said he was not able to meet the intermediary personally but the offer was made nonetheless through his "key people," some of whom leaked the information.

Reyes, however, denied any counter-offer from the KNP camp for him to stay. "Wala naman (There’s none)," he said.

"Commitment ko lang ito kay FPJ dahil walang iwanan sa KNP (This is just my commitment to FPJ because our motto in the KNP is to stick together)," Reyes said.

Reyes said he immediately refused the offer. "Hindi ako nasisilaw sa pera (I am not dazzled by money)," he said.

"At my age, I have only a few years to live. Ayaw kong marumihan ang pangalan ko (I don’t want my name tarnished)," Reyes told The STAR.

President Arroyo’s campaign spokesman, Michael Defensor, bumped into Reyes at the lobby of the Cebu Waterfront Hotel last night. Defensor hugged Reyes and told him, "You’re always welcome to join us and I hope you will really join us."

Defensor, however, vehemently denied making a P5-million offer to Reyes.

"That’s not true. I don’t think there was any offer. I think Mr. Rod Reyes is a man of integrity. You don’t talk money with him," Defensor told The STAR after his accidental meeting with Reyes.

Reyes merely laughed and reminded Defensor that he is a good friend of his father, lawyer Matt Defensor.

Both the administration Koalisyon ng Katapatan at Karanasan sa Kinabukasan and the KNP are on the campaign trial in this city.

To prove that all is well in the KNP camp, Reyes joined Poe in his campaign sortie in Cebu City late yesterday afternoon.

Poe later denied reports Reyes has resigned his post as KNP media bureau chief to join the administration.

"Ah wala, wala. Paandar ng kabila yun para umalis sa amin si Mr. Reyes. Hindi po totoo yun (There is no truth that scuttlebutt by the other camp meant to woo him over)," Poe told reporters.

Poe admitted losing Reyes from his team would put the KNP at a disadvantage with only two months before the May 10 elections.

Poe pointed out that he personally picked Reyes to be his media bureau chief. "And I trust Mr. Reyes," he stressed.

Poe also denied any infighting among KNP officials over his media coverage which prompted Reyes to think of quitting.

When sought for comment, Reyes told reporters in the Cebu sortie that he was "happy over the remarks" made by Poe.

"I will also tell him (Poe) that I appreciate the trust and confidence that he has in me. I’m with him all the way," an ecstatic Reyes later remarked.

Reyes made the statement in a mood in stark contrast to when he earlier admitted thinking of giving it all up.

He confirmed reports of "disagreements" between him and other KNP officials over Poe’s media coverage.

"Whatever it was, wala na yun. Naayos na namin, (the differences have been threshed out)," Reyes told The STAR.

Rumors began spreading that Reyes had resigned as early as middle of last month or shortly after the start of the electoral campaign last Feb. 10.

Reyes, who was asked to join the KNP last December, admitted to The STAR he previously contemplated resigning because of "misunderstanding" between him and KNP officials regarding media coverage for Poe.

Journalists covering Poe’s campaign also noted the lack of coordination between the KNP leaders and its media bureau.

Poe’s media handlers often tell reporters that they had yet to receive "much-needed information" coming from the KNP leadership.

Most of the time, journalists covering the campaign were confused over last-minute changes in provincial sorties.

Interviews with Poe during his campaign sorties are almost an impossible task, which prompted enterprising reporters to physically block his way just to get a few words or reactions from the media-shy actor.

Poe’s spokesman, Sorsogon Rep. Francis Escudero, earlier denied allegations of any disagreements with Reyes over the handling of the KNP’s media operations.

Escudero dismissed the reports as "unconfirmed and mere speculations."

For his part, KNP campaign manager Sen. Vicente Sotto III admitted there was "misunderstanding" with some KNP officials and Reyes on how to handle Poe’s media coverage but did not elaborate.

Sotto said the KNP executive committee agreed last week to patch up the differences and "consolidate the forces dealing with the media" to improve the media coverage on Poe and his campaign. — With Marichu Villanueva

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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