MANILA,  April 30, 2004
By Jose Rodel Clapano  - Leaders of the Liberal Party (LP) expressed confidence that President Arroyo and her 12 senatorial candidates in K-4 will win over rival Fernando Poe Jr. in the vote-rich Metro Manila.

LP leaders led by Manila Mayor Lito Atienza made the fearless forecast during a meeting with party national chairman Senate President Franklin Drilon last Wednesday.

Atienza said the relentless campaign of the LP and K-4 coalition local leaders to explain the programs of the Arroyo administration to the people have started to pay off.

"Mrs. Arroyo and her runningmate, Senator Noli de Castro and the K-4 senatorial slate would win in the May polls because of the efficient and effective machinery of the Liberal Party in the country’s capital," Atienza said.

Drilon said more LP leaders, who had initially expressed preference for other candidates, are now backing Mrs. Arroyo and her senatorial candidates.

He said that the latest to shift was former Quezon City Rep. Dante Liban.

Drilon also said that Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice and former Oriental Mindoro Gov. Rodolfo Valencia, who had supported the candidacy of former Education Secretary Raul Roco, shifted their support to Mrs. Arroyo.

Liban told Drilon that with the help of Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr., the President and her ticket would win overwhelmingly in Quezon City.

The other LP leaders who attended the meeting with Drilon included LP senatorial candidate Rodolfo Biazon; Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon; Malabon-Navotas Rep. Federico Sandoval III; Pasig congressional bet Ramon Romulo; Quezon City congressional candidate Mat Defensor; Manila vice mayoralty candidate Don Bagatsing; Manila congressional candidates Kim Atienza and Miles Roces; LP director general Eli Qunto and several Manila councilors.

Drilon predicted that Mrs. Arroyo will win the presidential race by an overwhelming margin of more than 3.5 million votes.

He said that the basis of his prediction is the abundance of support for Arroyo’s bid for a fresh mandate from various sectors and the lack of local candidates in most parts of the country of the opposition Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP).

"In my view, the KNP has local bets in only 25 percent of the country. This is a major factor that will carry the president to victory in the election" Drilon said.

Drilon said that previous poll surveys which showed Arroyo’s approval ratings steadily going up while those of Poe were gradually declining.

He said that Arroyo would gradually catch up with Poe in the pre-election surveys to eventually lead by as much as 10 percentage points.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved