CEBU CITY, March 28, 2004
Actress Susan Roces has started campaigning in the Visayas with her husband Fernando Poe Jr. and the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) to highlight the absence of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo in the sorties of President Arroyo.

Former press secretary Rod Reyes, KNP media bureau chief, said the sight of Susan with her husband on the campaign trail would have a positive impact on Filipino voters, who give a high regard for strong family relations.

"You donít see the shadow of Mike Arroyo in the Presidentís campaign," he said.

"But FPJ and Susan are together in the sorties. Susanís presence is an add-on (to the campaign)," Reyes added.

Roces, who is originally from Iloilo, arrived here from Manila yesterday morning to join her husband and the KNP campaign in the Visayas.

"This is the start of the Visayas campaign, thatís why Iím here now," she told reporters.

Upon seeing Poe at the Mactan International Airport, Rocesís face lit up, and the couple placed their arms around each otherís waists as they answered questions from reporters.

Poe said the public would be seeing more of him and Roces campaigning together, as his wife stood by his side, smiling.

"We represent the family," he told reporters.

Reyes said Roces joined the KNP campaign in Cebu to counter Mrs. Arroyoís "slim edge" in the province, which was dubbed as "GMA country" by the administration.

"May hatak si Susan, and she is also articulate," he said.

Apart from the Visayas, Roces is expected to campaign in provinces perceived to be bailiwicks of Mrs. Arroyo, he added.

Reyes said the public would also be seeing more of Dolphy in the campaign as the ace comedian and Roces are guaranteed crowd drawers.

"Dolphy can definitely help in the campaign," he said.

"In the same manner that FPJ helped Erap. But even without FPJ, I think Erap would have still won the presidency. Considering the mass following of FPJ, probably, Dolphy would just be an icing on the cake."

Dolphy was expected to attend the KNPís grand rally here, where his movies are said to have fared better than that of Poeís.

The Cebu sortie was the first time that Poe and Roces were seen together on the campaign trail after the KNPís proclamation rally in Pasay City last Feb. 10.

Roces had been going around Metro Manila and nearby provinces with wives and supporters of KNP senatorial candidates.

Meanwhile, Poe and veteran actor Eddie Garcia said they found nothing wrong with superstar Nora Aunorís campaigning for Mrs. Arroyo.

"Anyone can endorse anybody," Poe said.

Asked how strong Aunorís "star power" is compared to actors campaigning for Poe, Garcia smiled and said: "I canít say. Itís up to you. Youíre the ones who can see the peopleís reactions in the campaign."

Apart from Poe and Garcia, Roces was also met at the airport by Cebu natives Pilita Corrales and Annabelle Rama, Ramaís husband Eddie Gutierrez and teen star Ciara Sotto, daughter of Poeís campaign manager Sen. Tito Sotto. ó Nikko Dizon

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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