MANILA, April 20, 2004
By Maricel V. Cruz, Reporter - THE senatorial candidates of the Alyansa ng Pag-asa standard-bearer Raul Roco had been “kept in the dark” about the efforts of its camp to coalesce with the group of the presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

Rep. Carlos M. Padilla of Nueva Vizcaya made this observation Monday as he disclosed that the Lacson camp had known all the while of Roco’s plan to seek treatment abroad, because his emissaries had approached the Lacson camp for a possible unification.

“One week before Roco declared he was going for treatment, the two groups met. I attended one briefing on Holy Wednesday, four to five days before Roco made his announcement. We knew about the declaration,” Padilla, the only senatorial candidate on Lacson’s ticket, said in a radio interview.

He wondered why the supposed Roco-Lacson unification efforts had become known to the Alyansa ng Pag-asa senatorial candidates, who said it was the Lacson camp who approached the Roco camp.

“Why did the senatorial candidates say we approached them? How would they know when it was highly confidential?” Padilla asked.

He said the Lacson camp is still open for unification with the Roco camp and has not closed its doors on the issue of senatorial candidates.

Padilla said that if the talks push through, the joining of forces of Lacson and Roco would be a welcome move. He said the Lacson camp is “flexible and comfortable” with its present setup, although he is the only senatorial candidate on Lacson’s ticket.

“We are comfortable with our setup. Whether the talks [with Roco’s camp on senatorial candidates] push through or not, it’s OK with us,” he said.

Padilla said Roco’s camp had asked Lacson’s group not to divulge to the media the meetings on possible unification as well as Roco’s plan to seek treatment abroad until Roco himself had made the announcement.

This agreement, Padilla said, did not surprise the camp of Lacson when Roco announced Tuesday last week that he was going to the United States for treatment of a chronic back pain, which turned out to be a symptom of prostate cancer.

“Just to show we don’t break our word, we kept it under wraps and waited for Roco himself to make the declaration [that he was seeking treatment abroad],” he said.

Padilla, however, expressed surprise why the Roco camp had told a different story and tried to make it appear that it was the Lacson camp who had approached them for a possible unification.

“How would we have known that Roco planned to seek treatment abroad if he didn’t approach us and tell us that? They were the ones who approached us,” Padilla said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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