MANILA,  April 29, 2004
Malacañang turned the tables on the political opposition yesterday claiming they, and not the administration, would cheat their way through the May 10 elections.

Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye made the statement as he played down the reported tactical alliance between actor Fernando Poe Jr. and independent candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson to join forces against alleged plans by the incumbent to cheat in the May polls.

Bunye said any cheating would not come from the Koalisyon ng Katapatan at Karanasan para sa Kinabukasan (K-4) but from the opposition camp.

"If there will be any cheating, I’m sure it will come from the opposition ... Please do not underestimate the capability of the opposition," he said.

Bunye though admitted they have yet to uncover any plans from the opposition to cheat their way through the polls.

"No, we don’t (detect any attempt from the opposition to cheat)," Bunye said. "As a matter of fact, we’d like to proceed on the premise that everybody would work for clean, honest, orderly elections and that everybody would cooperate in this endeavor."

Bunye strongly took exception to claims made by Poe’s Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) that President Arroyo would utilize government machinery to cheat.

Bunye said Mrs. Arroyo remains committed in getting her six-year mandate through honest and peaceful elections.

"It is to the benefit of everybody that the elections be credible because this would provide a sound foundation, a solid foundation for our democratic institutions," he said.

Poe and Lacson met Tuesday night and agreed to join forces to guard their votes. Neither, however, gave way to unify the opposition against Mrs. Arroyo.

Bunye said it is Mrs. Arroyo’s wish that Poe and Lacson join forces and field one of them against her in the May 10 presidential derby.

He said the President believed a united opposition would afford people the chance to compare programs and platforms of government. "This can only happen if there is a unified opposition," he said.

"But right now, it seems the opposition is not ready to unify. They are not ready to come up with a common front and we’ll just let it go at that for the time being."

Citing the recent survey results, Bunye said Mrs. Arroyo considers Poe as her only challenger. - Marichu Villanueva

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved