By Nikko Dizon  —  Perhaps already feeling the heat of the race with five days to go before the elections, Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. vented his ire on the media and has apparently decided that they are his worst enemy.

A day after complaining that the media only put out "falsehoods," Poe gave print reporters yesterday the cold shoulder, refused to be interviewed, and displayed an attitude.

Apparently realizing his gaffe, he relented to give an interview to radio and television reporters who could afford to follow him throughout his 13-town motorcade.

This latest incident heightened tension in the Poe camp with his key handlers admitting that the "frustration over negative media reports is beginning to set in."

"Hindi kasi siya sanay unlike politicians," the source said, adding that it is Poe’s nature to be transparent and show his true feelings.

Fed up with Poe’s tantrums and unpredictable behavior, nine local and foreign print reporters decided to cut short their coverage of the KNP’s two-day campaign swing in this province and skip the coalition ticket’s political rally scheduled in Urdaneta last night.

The boycott was in protest to the demand by the Poe camp that any interviews should exclude reporter Sandra Aguinaldo of GMA-7, who had "upstaged" the actor at a previous campaign rally in Iloilo City last March.

Early yesterday morning, the reporters tried to "ambush" Poe at his hotel in Calasiao at around 6:30 a.m. but missed him by a few minutes.

Poe, who usually travels by helicopter in his sorties, unexpectedly took the one and a half hour road trip from Calasiao to Alcala in time for the motorcade at 8:30 a.m.

While a group of reporters settled to interview Sen. Vicente Sotto III, KNP senatorial bet Francisco Tatad, and actor Eddie Garcia, four other journalists including those fom The STAR followed Poe to Alcala, where they caught him before the motorcade began.

Sotto, it will be recalled, earlier gave GMA-7 a tongue-lashing for airing footage allegedly showing Poe being stoned at a sortie in Cavite.

"I waited for you at the hotel, you were not there," Poe told The STAR, Manila Standard’s Christine Herrera, Tribune’s Angie Rosales, and Abante’s Ian Cruz. Poe had a sneer on his face and displayed a surprising aloofness.

When Herrera persisted and asked for his comment on reports that Malacañang paid actress Nora Aunor P6.2 million to campaign for President Arroyo, Poe replied: "Kahit ano naman ang sabihin ko, hindi naman lalabas (Whatever I say won’t come out in the papers)."

The journalists were then asked by Poe’s aides and security to get down the truck. Herrera said she saw Poe start to sway to his campaign jingle and wave to the crowd that had gathered to see him.

Poe could not claim to have "waited" for the reporters because his staff never confirmed with the KNP media bureau, which usually arranges the interviews, that the actor had agreed to meet the media in the morning.

Throughout the three-month campaign period, some 20 reporters covering Poe have had to settle with chance interviews with the actor, eliciting mostly one-liners.

But reporters also noticed Poe started becoming more accessible, despite the short and hurried interviews.

Poe again became a difficult subject to cover after it was reported that the Iglesia ni Cristo had endorsed Mrs. Arroyo and her running mate, Sen. Noli de Castro. He refused to comment on the issue.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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