PING CONFIDENT OF VICTORY DESPITE POOR SURVEY STANDING

MANILA,  May 10, 2004
 
(STAR)
By Jess Diaz  -  Opposition presidential hopeful Sen. Panfilo Lacson expressed confidence yesterday that he would make it in today’s elections.

He said judging by what he described as the "intense" reception he and his lone senatorial candidate, House Minority Leader Carlos Padilla, got from the people in the 88 days that they campaigned, he has no doubt that he would win the presidency.

"I’m oozing with confidence. We will defy the odds, we will prove the surveys wrong," he said.

He reiterated that if he gets three million votes or fewer in today’s balloting or 10 percent as the surveys showed he is worth, he would resign as a senator.

"I will take it as a vote of no confidence on the part of those who supported me in the 2001 senatorial elections (he received 10.5 million votes then). That is not a promise. It’s a commitment," he said.

"But if I get more than 10 million votes, then I am moving from the Senate to Malacañang," he added.

Lacson is casting his ballot this morning at the Bayang Luma Elementary School in Imus, Cavite. He expects his home province to come out solidly for him.

Lacson also left open the doors to reconciliation with his political nemesis President Arroyo following a unity Mass attended by all the presidential candidates at the San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila yesterday.

"Let’s forget the rancor and defeat," Lacson said, adding there should be "genuine reconciliation" after the elections.

On Saturday night, he hosted a thank-you dinner for print and broadcast journalists who covered him during the campaign.

Lito Banayo, his spokesman and political strategist, described the dinner as the "first of several victory parties."

"This is not a miting de avance. This is in truth a victory party. We are not boasting. This is true. You will see it in one week’s time," Banayo said.

"After 53 days, a new government, a new style of leadership and a new style of politics will be ushered in," he said. The next president will be sworn in on June 30.

During the dinner, Lacson’s campaign staff made a video presentation with the theme, "Si Ping ang kinabukasan."

It included testimonies from businessman Antonio Sibay and Robina Gokongwei, a daughter of billionaire business tycoon John Gokongwei, who were kidnap victims whom Lacson rescued when he was a police officer.

The former Philippine National Police chief thanked the journalists who covered him and Padilla and his small group of adherents from the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), the political party he belongs to but whose endorsement he lost due to a quarrel with his party boss, Sen. Edgardo Angara.

The bitter quarrel even reached the Supreme Court, which declared the Angara camp as the "rightful LDP faction." Angara is believed to be the chief political strategist of Lacson’s opposition rival, movie actor Fernando Poe Jr.

Lacson kidded the journalists who hounded him that "while you were apprehensive I might be a snob, it turned out I am more approachable than FPJ."

The Lacson camp is doing its own exit poll today and its own quick count. It has commissioned Informatics Computer School to do both.

Banayo said the results of the exit poll and the quick count will be released to the media. — With reports from Nikko Dizon


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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