DAVAO CITY,  April 26, 2004
By Edith Regalado — Bangon Pilipinas is waiting and even praying for former senator and Alyansa ng Pag-asa standard-bearer Raul Roco, who is in the United States for medical treatment, to endorse evangelist Eddie Villanueva.

Villanueva’s economic adviser, former National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief Cielito Habito, told reporters waiting for Villanueva’s arrival here of his party’s penchant for otherworldly intervention.

"Bangon Pilipinas waits for Roco to endorse Villanueva. We are praying and waiting for it," he said.

Should Roco endorse Villanueva, Habito said, Bangon Pilipinas could adopt vice presidential candidate Hermie Aquino as well as the entire senatorial slate of the Alyansa ng Pag-asa.

Habito said unification talks are still ongoing between Villanueva’s and Roco’s groups, with daily meetings of at least two hours each.

"The talks are still ongoing either for a possible merger or tactical alliance and sharing of resources in the guarding of the ballots," he said.

While he said that Villanueva is unlikely to withdraw or slide down in favor of Roco, Habito didn’t rule out the possibility.

"But I cannot also speculate. We can only pray and wait for events to unfold as discussions will continue," he said.

But questioned about his chances in the May 10 elections without a merger with Roco’s group, Villanueva himself sounded confident enough of victory.

"With or without Roco, I will win," he said.

Villanueva arrived in Davao City Saturday for a late afternoon rally attended by thousands of his supporters.

Villanueva sees his dismal showing in surveys conducted by both the Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia as a prelude to massive cheating.

"The survey results are managed to suit a trending that the fight is only between two presidential candidates," he said.

While he didn’t directly accuse the two survey firms of mischief, Villanueva said he had received inside information about how their survey data were being manipulated.

"With due respect to the presidents of the two survey firms, I know that these surveys have been subcontracted to other groups," he said.

Villanueva said his low survey ratings would make it easier for votes cast for him to be diverted to another presidential candidate.

"I received confidential reports that a certain presidential camp will use millions of my votes in massive cheating, in dagdag-bawas," he said.

Villanueva said that the difference between his four percent rating in the SWS and Pulse Asia surveys and his ratings of "as much as 15 percent and higher" in other surveys could be used to pad the votes of the favored presidential candidate.

Villanueva was confident he could spring a surprise in the coming elections, especially with the encouraging signs he was getting in his campaign during the past two months.

He has managed to gather a sizable crowd during a rally in Manila and topped some cellphone "text in" surveys.

"With these developments, I could not understand why my ratings are so low in the surveys," he said.

Villanueva said that a house-to-house campaign launched by Bangon Pilipinas named "Operation Red Sea" would deliver the votes that would carry him to victory.

He urged the public to be vigilant in guarding the ballots to prevent a repeat of the 1986 elections between Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino that was marred by massive cheating.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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