TARLAC CITY, April 16, 2004
By Benjie Villa — Action star-turned-presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. is now faced with the dilemma of choosing whom to support between two mayoral bets of the opposition in this city.

This, after Vice Mayor Miguel Tañedo, mayoral bet of the Laban ng Demo—kratikong Pilipino (LDP), withdrew his support for Sen. Panfilo Lacson and would reportedly lead Poe’s welcoming party here today.

Meanwhile, Poe’s original supporters here, led by former mayor Gelacio Manalang, are hurting over unconfirmed reports that the movie icon will grace Tañedo’s campaign sorties.

Manalang wants to regain the mayorship which he had held for nine consecutive years until 2001, under the banner of the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), the political party of Poe’s bosom friend, jailed former President Joseph Estrada.

Since the start of the campaign, Manalang and members of his ticket have been actively campaigning for Poe, his vice presidential running mate, Sen. Loren Legarda, and the full senatorial line-up of the opposition Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP).

Manalang also represented Tarlac when the KNP was formed late last year.

Tañedo apparently abandoned Lacson after Manalang filed a petition with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) here, asking that Tañedo and members of his slate be declared independent candidates.

Manalang based his petition on a Supreme Court ruling declaring Lacson an independent, and not an LDP candidate.

Like Lacson, the party nominations of Tañedo and members of his ticket were signed by Makati City Rep. Agapito Aquino, LDP secretary general.

But the Supreme Court ruled last Feb. 24 that it is Sen. Edgardo Angara, the LDP president, and not Aquino, who has the sole authority to nominate the opposition party’s official bets.

Tañedo, however, sought Angara’s nomination with the help of Sen. Tessie Aquino-Oreta, Aquino’s sister. The vice mayor is a close relative of the Aquinos.

But Aquino-Oreta reportedly demanded that in exchange for the "legitimate" LDP nomination, Tañedo should junk Lacson and support Poe instead.

Manalang’s camp, meanwhile, is set to block Tañedo’s nomination papers signed by Angara, arguing that the Comelec deadline for the submission of all documents had lapsed last Jan. 5.

The PMP-KNP slate here further questioned the "sincerity" of Tañedo, claiming that the vice mayor dumped Lacson for "political convenience, and not for principles."

"When Vice Mayor Tañedo and his ticket finally realized that they no longer needed Sen. Lacson, they dropped him just like a hot potato," Manalang’s camp said in a statement.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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