LACSON CONCEDES PANGASINAN TO ARROYO

MANILA,  May 12, 2004
(STAR)
By Jess Diaz  - The camp of opposition presidential hopeful Sen. Panfilo Lacson conceded yesterday that President Arroyo may have won in vote-rich Pangasinan, the home province of her closest opponent, movie actor Fernando Poe Jr.

"Reports from our own people indicate that traditional politicians in Pangasinan were able to deliver the province to Mrs. Arroyo," Lito Banayo, Lacsonís political strategist and spokesman, told journalists.

"We did not expect to win there, but neither did we expect the President to win. We expected the province to go for its son, FPJ (who hails from San Carlos City)," he said.

Banayo revealed that in one town, where there are more than 6,000 voters and where the mayor is a suspected warlord and jueteng operator, Mrs. Arroyo received all the votes cast.

"Zero yung mga kalaban (Her opponents got no votes)," he said.

He said Lacson expected to place third in Pangasinan after the President and Poe.

He said they are also receiving reports that Mrs. Arroyo is doing well in Cebu province, including Cebu City, which has a voting population of 1.6 million, and Negros Occidental, including Bacolod City, which has more than one million voters.

The Arroyo family traces its roots to Negros Occidental. Ignacio Arroyo, a brother of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and who had claimed he, not the Presidentís husband, is the real Jose Pidal, is a congressional candidate there. He is said to be winning over incumbent Jose Apolinario Lozada Jr.

Banayo said that from Ilocos Norte and South Cotabato, including General Santos City, they received reports that the fight is between Poe and Lacson with Mrs. Arroyo coming in third.

He said they would await a clear trend from the unofficial count of the National Movement for Free Elections before making an announcement on what the peopleís verdict might have been as reflected in their ballots.

"The Namfrel count is based on precinct-level documents. Yung media quick count trending lang yun (The media quick count is intended for trending)," he said.

He admitted that based on the Social Weather Stations exit poll in Metro Manila, the opposition might have won by a landslide if it fielded a single candidate.

The poll showed Mrs. Arroyo getting 31 percent of the votes. Poe received 23 percent, while Lacson obtained 20 percent.

He blamed leaders of the "other camp" for the failure of the opposition to field a single candidate against Mrs. Arroyo.

"They did not agree to a fair selection process. They just foisted their choice on the opposition," he said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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