POTOTAN, ILOILO, April 14, 2004
By Jose Rodel Clapano ó In perhaps his boldest declaration that he intends to win next monthís elections, independent presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson vowed yesterday to resign as senator and retire from politics if he gets less than three million votes.

"If I get two (million) to three million votes this coming May 10 election, Iím going to resign as senator of the Republic of the Philippines," Lacson told reporters during a break in his hectic campaign in Iloilo.

Lacson expects to surpass the 10.58 million votes he got when he won in the 2001 senatorial elections.

"Well, I got 10.58 million votes in the Senate elections when I ran and won in 2001. Of course, that is a different matter. But during my campaign for the Senate, I didnít receive this kind of reception from the people," he said.

Lacson said that the "intensity" and "warmth" of the support he is receiving are much greater now than when he ran for the Senate.

"There is a very big difference between the senatorial campaign and the presidential campaign. Not even half of the intensity, not even half of the warmth, not even half of the reception Iím getting now as compared to what I got when I ran for senator in 2001," he said.

Lacson expressed disbelief over the results of the latest Pulse Asia survey released last Monday, which showed his acceptance rating decrease from 11 to 10 percent.

"I really cannot believe these surveys, particularly the 10 percent acceptance rating that I got," he said.

The 10 percent rating appears to be the cut-off for Lacsonís resignation figure of two million to three million votes.

"Ten percent can be used in the actual number of votes. Assuming that those polled are all registered voters, the 10 percent is only four million of the 40 million total registered voters in the country," he said.

But Lacson reduced his figures to take into account the registered voters who would opt out of the May 10 elections.

"Assuming 25 million cast their votes, the 10 percent is only 2.5 million. Weíve been to Pangasinan, Laguna, you mention it. Weíve been there and we keep ourselves close to the pulse of the people. We know what the reception to us is by the people. We know our acceptability rating," he said.

He tagged the camp of President Arroyo for "pinning me down in the vicinity of 10, 11, 12 percent" to make the public believe that he is not enjoying high levels of support.

"The other incredible result of the survey is GMA (Mrs. Arroyo) being on top of everybody, or every candidate, every presidential candidate. That is impossible. We have been to so many places where she is being flatly rejected by the people," he said.

Lacson said that some local surveys even show Mrs. Arroyo getting low ratings in those places that are perceived to be her bailiwicks.

Lacson exuded confidence that he will win the 2004 elections despite the "demolition jobs" being plotted against him by the administration.

"Yes, of course, Iím confident that I will win in the May 10 elections. That is the reason why Iím working doubly hard in my campaign. If a candidate doesnít believe heís going to win, he should stop campaigning. But thatís only half of the story. A candidate should stand up (for his) principles," he said.

Lacson said that there is no use getting elected or reelected if a candidate does not stand up for something.

"What we are fighting for is good governance. What we are fighting for is to save this country from the situation we are in now," he said.

Lacson said that he received a very warm reception in Iloilo despite it being part of Western Visayas, perceived to be a bailiwick of Mrs. Arroyo.

"If the people really believed in survey, I wonít be getting this kind of warm reception here in Iloilo, which is perceived as GMAís bailiwick, but I discovered that it is not. It appears that Iloilo is not a bailiwick of the President," he said.

Lacson said that it will be the end of his political career and public service "if I only get two (million) to three million votes this coming elections on May 10."

"You wonít see me in the halls of the Senate anymore. Iím going to resign, effective June 30, 2004, if I get only two to three million votes," he said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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