MANILA,  May 12, 2004
By Jose Rodel Clapano  -  Independent presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson urged losers in last Mondayís elections to accept their fate rather than engage in endless protests about fraud.

"Those who fail to protect their votes donít deserve to win. Thereís no use complaining about fraud after it has already happened," he said yesterday.

Believed to be backed principally by the middle-class and rich Chinese-Filipinos, Lacson appears to be concerned about the impact such protests will have on the economy.

"Even investors know the gravity of the problem and are aware that if there is no peace and order, the economy will never progress. But with the votes already in, there is no use in crying over spilled milk if candidates fall prey to cheating," he said.

But Lacson isnít ready to throw in the towel or count himself among the losers just yet.

He said his camp is documenting every case of election fraud brought to its attention.

"We will not let these pass," he said.

Lacson said that he has tapped his supporters, including retired police and military generals, to help guard against poll fraud.

But he said that his ability to protect his votes was compromised by the failure of the Supreme Court (SC) to recognize him as the official candidate of his party, the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP).

"I am operating without the benefit of additional poll security features after the Supreme Court did not recognize my wing of the (LDP)," he said.

The SC had recognized Sen. Edgardo Angaraís wing of the LDP which supported the candidacy of Fernando Poe Jr.

Lacson said that his fight for social reform wonít end with the election.

"Our fight will not be easy. The fight will not end with an election victory. The fight is to end the reign of corrupt and criminal elements in society. Itís not only my fight, but also of the people," he said.

Lacson was worried over the social fallout from the pesoís post-election decline.

"If the peso continues to weaken, it will result in the loss of thousands of jobs and financial opportunities," he said.

But Lacson put the ultimate blame for the countryís dismal economic performance on corruption, which he said can be addressed only by a leader "with strong political will" and "a no-nonsense style of leadership."

"We must clean the government first. We must stop corruption so the government can get enough funds to provide basic services. We must stop this culture of corruption. No matter how beautiful the programs of government are, they remain meaningless if they have no funds. Corruption and high standards of service can never grow together," Lacson said. ó With Jess Diaz

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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