POE:  NO UNIFICATION WITH LACSON

CONCEPCION, TARLAC,  May 2, 2004
 
(STAR)
Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. declared here yesterday he will stay on as presidential bet of the opposition without merging forces with independent presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

"Wala nang atrasan ito. Kung ano ang sinimulan ko, tatapusin ko," Poe told reporters when asked on the progress of unity talks with Lacson.

Poe made the statement even after his personal campaign manager Sen. Vicente Sotto III earlier in the day declared efforts are still ongoing for the two opposition presidential candidates to unite under one banner.

"Thatís still possible. Wala pa rin namang May 10," Sotto said.

Sotto even claimed news reports had compromised efforts to forge a unity between Poe and Lacson.

Poe earlier expressed hopes meeting anew Lacson. They earlier met last Tuesday only to agree on forging a loose alliance of forces in guarding their respective votes.

Meanwhile, Senate President Franklin Drilon said unification efforts between Poe and Lacson are "now too late in the day."

Drilon pointed out that with only eight days left before election day, more than 90 percent of the electorate has already made their decision. He said any unification would no longer affect the results of the polls.

"Even if (Poe and Lacson) will unite, it is too late in the day to change the sentiments of the voters. I think a good 90 percent of our people, at this point, have already made up their minds as to whom to vote. There is much ado over nothing," Drilon said.

The Liberal Party (LP) leader earlier predicted that President Arroyo will win by an overwhelming margin of more than 3.5 million votes.

"Any unity ticket of the opposition will no longer affect how our people would vote on May 10. So even if Mr. Poe and Senator Lacson would come to an agreement, I think it is too late to have an effect on the elections," Drilon said. ó Nikko Dizon


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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