FPJ VOWED TO RESPECT PEOPLE'S MANDATE

MANILA,  May 10, 2004
 
(MALAYA)
By JP LOPEZ -  Fernando Poe Jr. yesterday vowed to respect the people's mandate and told his followers not to be a party to any post-election violence.

Poe made the statements following a "unity mass" at the San Agustin church in Intramuros arranged by President Corazon Aquino and officiated by Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales.

Also in attendance were President Arroyo, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Raul Roco and Eddie Villanueva.

Poe said it is his wish that the conduct of the elections be peaceful and orderly.

He said his wife, Susan, will be by his side when he casts his vote early today at the Xavier School Gymnasium in San Juan.

Poe appealed to voters "to go out and vote in accordance with the dictates of your conscience."

"We should also guard the integrity of our ballot, so that the true will of the people shall be reflected in the results of the election," he said.

The Alliance of Retired Military-Police Officers and Enlisted Men warned it would undertake mass actions if Poe is cheated.

Retired Col. Reynaldo Cabauatan, one of the group's founding leaders, said they expect "sympathetic" active officers and men to join the mass actions.

Lt. Gen. Rodolfo Garcia, AFP vice chief and spokesman, said Cabauatan's threat is uncalled for. "They are making predictions. What should be coming out from people are words of calm and sobriety," he said.

He assured the opposition that the AFP will play a neutral role.

The KNP said the El Shaddai has not endorsed any presidential candidate contrary to media reports that the charismatic group has given its blessing to Arroyo.

The KNP based its claim on the statement last Saturday by Bishop Teodoro Bacani, the El Shaddai's spiritual adviser, that neither he nor El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde has endorsed a presidential candidate.

Mel Robles, Velarde's spokesman, in an interview, said El Shaddai's blessing on Arroyo is basically an endorsement for her candidacy.

President Joseph Estrada called on the electorate to vote for Poe.

"Both the Commission on Elections and the Sandiganbayan have seemingly conspired to disenfranchise me; I therefore cannot cast my vote," he said.

The Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino said Poe will win by at least 2 million votes, "despite cheating by the K4 administration coalition led by President Arroyo."

The winning margin projected for Poe already takes into consideration whatever effect the endorsement by the Iglesia Ni Cristo sect and the group El Shaddai may have on Arroyo's candidacy, Mike Romero, KNP spokesman, said.

"According to our latest in-house survey, confirmed by Proberz Research and Consultancy and a survey conducted by a foreign embassy, FPJ will lead the KNP landslide by a margin of 18 percentage points over Mrs. Arroyo," Romero said.

"We are computing an 8 to 10 percent erosion of that winning margin because of cheating operations which the K4 has started to carry out," he said.

Romero said Proberz, which is composed of professors from the University of Santo Tomas, was "a bit conservative" in its findings which had FPJ ahead of President Arroyo by 13 percentage points, 42-29, as of May 4. (With Victor Reyes and Rhoel Fernandez)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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