NEGROS POLITICIANS' DEFECTION A 'SOUR NOTE' IN MY BID, SAYS ARROYO

BACOLOD CITY,  April 26, 2004
 
(STAR)
By Antonieta Lopez — It was "a sour note" in her campaign.

Thus described President Arroyo of the recent defection of Negros Occidental Gov. Joseph Marañon and other provincial politicians to the camp of Fer—nando Poe Jr., standard bearer of the opposition Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP).

"Three weeks ago I left Negros Occidental with a heavy heart after losing the support of leaders in the province that I married into. That was a sour note in my bid for the presidency," Mrs. Arroyo told her supporters during the launch of a covenant of unity at the Business Inn here the other day.

"But while I value the support of our political leaders, the essence of every election is really the people’s mandate that we must ultimately seek," she said.

"Our quest for the people’s mandate is not just about the number of mayors, governors and congressmen who declare support. Our campaign is about winning the hearts and minds and the confidence of the Filipino people," she added.

Marañon, four lawmakers, seven provincial board members and 15 mayors withdrew their support for Mrs. Arroyo and shifted to Poe’s camp recently.

Asked if there were still efforts to win back Marañon’s group, Mrs. Arroyo said, "I always welcome support from anybody. As an act of good faith, we adopted Gov. Marañon as our coalition’s gubernatorial bet. I hope he will find it in his heart to support the candidate who will work for the sugar industry."

However, a consolidated K-4 random survey of 27,416 voters in Negros Occidental as of April 18 showed Mrs. Arroyo leading with 63.30 percent.

Trailing behind her were Poe with 21.06 percent; Raul Roco, 5.18 percent; Panfilo Lacson, 4.25 percent; and Eddie Villanueva, 2.37 percent. About 3.84 percent of the respondents were undecided.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Arroyo unveiled a bust of her father, the late President Diosdado Macapagal, at the mill site of the First Farmers Milling Co. in Talisay City.

The late president helped establish the sugar mill and refinery in 1964.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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