IMUS CAVITE,  May 11, 2004
By Jess Diaz  —  Independent presidential hopeful Sen. Panfilo Lacson said yesterday he did his best to win the people’s support and is now leaving his fate to God.

"I am always fatalistic in everything I do," he told journalists after casting his vote at the Bayang Luma Elementary School here.

"I told myself (at the start of the campaign) it would be 50 percent hard work and the remaining 50 percent I would leave to God. And since I believe I have contributed more than 50 percent of hard work, I think it would be easier for God to make me win," he said.

Lacson arrived at the school at exactly 8 a.m. He was accompanied by Cavite Gov. Ireneo "Ayong" Maliksi and eldest son Ronald Jay.

His wife Alice and their two other sons, Panfilo Jr. and Jeric, voted in Parañaque City.

Dressed in white barong, Lacson made his way to the precinct amid the cheers and shouts of his supporters.

The senator was listed as voter no. 122 at Precinct 155-A and his voter registration was listed as 26749821.

After voting, Lacson went back to his campaign headquarters in Makati City to monitor the election day developments.

Lacson said he felt good after enjoying a good night’s sleep for the first time since embarking on the three month campaign. "I feel energized," he said.

Asked who he voted for, Lacson said he wrote his name and that of his lone senatorial candidate, House Minority Leader Carlos Padilla.

But Lacson would not reveal his vote for vice president and other senatorial candidates.

Responding to another question, the former national police chief said his worst fear is not being able to obtain at least three million votes due to cheating.

Lacson said he might have to resign and give up his Senate seat.

"I have a commitment to myself and to my supporters that if I don’t get three million votes as the pollsters have been saying all this time, then effective June 30, 2004, I’ll be out of the Senate. I’ll resign as a senator," he said.

Lacson made the statement even after pollster Mahar Mangahas of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said in a recent television interview Lacson would get more than three million votes.

Lacson said his camp have anticipated "dirty tricks" to be employed in the national voting. He said their camp and supporters have contingency plans on how to prevent cheating during the counting.

"If we allow ourselves to be cheated, we deserve to lose. Of course, there are legal avenues for protest, but you know how it is here. There’s no use crying over spilled milk," Lacson said.

Over the weekend, in the course of a campaign swing in the Samar-Leyte provinces, Lacson disclosed his plans of protesting the conduct of absentee voting at Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna and other police camps.

Lacson said policemen who cast their votes did so "under duress," claiming their superiors threatened them with reassignment to the so-called "kangkungan" or hardship posts unless they voted for President Arroyo.

Lito Banayo, Lacson’s spokesman, said the elections are turning out too close to call despite his candidate having a wide lead in the early exit polls conducted by a group commissioned by the senator.

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, the survey conducted by Informatics Computer School had 1,618 respondents, of whom 692 or 42.7 percent voted for Lacson. Running second was Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. with 21.6 percent, third was Mrs. Arroyo (17.2 percent), followed by evangelist Eddie Villanueva (7.4) and former senator Raul Roco (6.5).

Most of the respondents came from Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog, where the former PNP chief made a good showing based on the exit poll.

Banayo, however, said he expects Lacson’s lead to eventually taper down.

"I think this will be a tight contest. It will be a repeat of the 1992 elections, except now there are three candidates slugging it out," he said. - With Jose Rodel Clapano

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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