VIGAN CITY, April 14, 2004
By Paolo Romero -  Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. admitted yesterday that the KNP is now finding it difficult to raise funds to finance his campaign with barely a month to go before the May 10 elections.

Poe, however, denied that Sen. Vicente Sotto III has been given a reduced role in the campaign, which he said remains in full swing despite reports of infighting in the coalition and the lack of funds.

"We don’t really have problems, but we’re really trying to raise funds," Poe told reporters. "We’re continuing our fundraising. We need funding and support."

Poe said the administration is being "insensitive" for pouncing on the reported lack of funds in the KNP.

He claimed the administration cannot experience the lack of money since it could simply use public money to bankroll the campaign of President Arroyo.

Poe said he was taken by surprise over reports that Sotto is no longer leading his campaign.

"I don’t know where they got that news. No such thing happened," Poe said.

On reports that Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay had replaced Sotto as KNP campaign manager, Poe said the mayor’s task was only to consolidate all the members of the coalition.

"We must join hands so that we can resolve some problems at the lower level, that’s all," Poe said.

He said there would be no significant changes in the way he conducts his campaign with the presidential elections three weeks away.

Poe also stressed the need for uniting the ranks of the opposition as the campaign enters the homestretch.

But Poe declared here that he will never slide down even if that should be the primary condition for uniting the opposition.

The actor even branded as "uncalled for" the demand of independent presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson that his two key political advisers – Sotto and Sen. Edgardo Angara – be removed as a condition for unification.

Poe made the declaration even as recent surveys showed him trailing Mrs. Arroyo.

Asked whether he would slide down to unite the opposition, as earlier proposed by Lacson, Poe said: "Hindi mangyayari ‘yun at ‘di naman niya siguro hihilingin ‘yun (That won’t happen and I don’t think that he will ask that)."

He also expressed disappointment over Lacson’s condition to remove Angara and Sotto from the KNP to pave the way for unification.

"I think what Senator Lacson said was uncalled for but still we’re hoping for unification," Poe said.

The 64-year-old movie star said he would do everything to forge a united front against the administration. — With Nikko Dizon

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved