ILOILO CITY, April 2, 2004
By Nikko Dizon - Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. hopes to be accorded the same generosity by Filipino-Chinese businessmen as his rival in the opposition, Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

"Hopefully, we can get (financial) support also," Poe told reporters here yesterday morning upon his arrival at the Iloilo Domestic Airport on board a private plane.

In a chat with reporters, the movie actor also took the chance to laud comedian Dolphy’s move to apologize to President Arroyo for dishing out an inappropriate joke during a KNP campaign rally in Cebu City last weekend.

"Okay ‘yon. At least tapos na (That’s okay, at least the issue is finally closed)," Poe said of the incident when Dolphy, Rodolfo Quizon in real life, called the President "stupid," apparently to stir up the crowd.

He made a public apology to Mrs. Arroyo, which she accepted.

Poe arrived here shortly after 9 a.m., a day late for his three-day Panay island campaign sortie. He proceeded to the nearby Iloilo Doctors Hospital where his senatorial bet, Salvador Escudero III, is recuperating from an accidental fall that dislocated his right elbow.

Poe was accompanied by his spokesman and Escudero’s son, Sorsogon Rep. Francis Escudero, KNP campaign manager Sen. Vicente Sotto III and actor Eddie Garcia, a distant relative of the Escuderos.

Before setting out for the Western Visayas swing of his campaign, Poe, his wife actress Susan Roces and KNP senatorial candidates had a luncheon Tuesday with Filipino-Chinese business and sectoral organizations in Binondo, Manila.

This came hours before Lacson managed to raise P10.5 million during a "friendship dinner" with Filipino-Chinese friends.

Lacson, a former Philippine National Police chief, has had strong following from the Filipino-Chinese community because of his solid background in fighting crime.

Poe declined to comment further on Lacson’s fund raising feat, saying only: "Siyempre, everyone needs support, especially pagdating sa funding (Naturally, we all need support especially on funding needs)."

Poe said campaign funding was not discussed during the luncheon, which he described as an "informal meeting" with the Filipino-Chinese community.

Filipino-Chinese businessmen also declined to speak to reporters at the affair.

The luncheon appeared like a mini-political rally where Poe urged his audience to give him the opportunity to be president, the only role he has not portrayed in any of his numerous movies.

His running mate, Sen. Loren Legarda and some KNP senatorial candidates also each gave a short speech, where they tried to outdo each other in establishing filial relations or affinity with the Filipino-Chinese.

Roces delighted the crowd when she spoke in Fookienese as she urged them to vote for her husband.

Meanwhile, Poe defended the concreteness of his platform of government contrary to the President’s claim that the opposition "has no platform even for the movie industry."

Poe, dubbed "the king of Philippine action movies," insisted he does have a program for the local entertainment industry.

He, however, failed to expound on this as he had to rush to visit Escudero, his injured partymate, at the Iloilo Doctors Hospital.

What Poe managed to express was how he was unruffled by the seeming widening support from the entertainment industry for Mrs. Arroyo’s bid for a fresh term.

"Well okay yun. At least mayroon siyang pagkakataon na makausap ang mga kapwa ko artista (Well, that’s okay. At least, she has the opportunity to speak with my fellow actors)," Poe said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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