ANGARA: WE WILL BE STRONGER WITHOUT LACSON
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, May 17, 2004 (STAR) By Ding Cervantes - The largest opposition party will "emerge stronger" following the May 10 elections, even without Sen. Panfilo Lacson in its roster, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) president Sen. Edgardo Angara declared yesterday.
Angara said not having Lacson in their party is not a loss for the LDP since most of its members don’t want him around anyway.
In an interview with The STAR yesterday, Angara seemed to have shut the door to any possible reconciliation with his nemesis.
"We will be stronger without him (Lacson)," Angara said.
While stressing he had no regrets in pursuing his presidential bid, Lacson said last Thursday he would resign as LDP member. He blamed Angara for killing the party, saying he surrendered its independence to the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) when the coalition fielded movie actor Fernando Poe Jr. in the presidential race last May 10.
Angara and Lacson had a falling out after the LDP president chose to back the candidacy of Poe, a close friend of deposed President Joseph Estrada.
This resulted in the LDP splitting into the Angara and Lacson factions. Angara formed the KNP with two other opposition parties to serve as the vehicle for Poe’s presidential bid.
The Supreme Court later ruled that the Angara group was the legitimate LDP party, effectively making Lacson an independent candidate.
Estrada, a former movie action hero, supported his friend over Lacson, who served as chief of the Philippine National Police during his short-lived administration.
Lacson has said Makati Rep. Agapito Aquino, LDP secretary-general, and Iloilo Rep. Rolex Suplico agreed to join him in resigning from the LDP.
Lacson denied rumors though that he will be joining the administration camp but made it clear he is willing to work with the next administration.
Rumors began circulating more than a week ago that Lacson might be offered to head the Department of the Interior and Local Government that supervises the Philippine National Police, which he headed from 1999 to 2001 during the Estrada administration.
He criticized Poe’s camp for accusing him of making a deal with Mrs. Arroyo.
Lacson had earlier welcomed Mrs. Arroyo’s plan to set up a "unity government" to heal divisions wrought by the bitter election campaign and ensure the country’s stability.
Meanwhile, Angara told The STAR that the opposition has been unearthing more evidence of fraud during the elections. "Evidence point towards massive cheating, particularly in Mindanao," he said.
Amid reports of poll fraud, Poe wants his supporters to remain "calm," Angara said. But he warned the possibility of another "people power" scenario should reports of massive cheating be established.
"Hindi mapipigilan ang mga tao (The people cannot be stopped) if they feel their votes were stolen," Angara said. He stressed, however, that this was "hypothetical" and only based on "the assumption of massive cheating."
Angara said cheating on the municipal and provincial levels had been reported in Mindanao, noting the alleged presence there of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo since May 11, or a day after the elections.
"It’s unusual, a strange coincidence (that Mr. Arroyo is in Mindanao)," Angara said.
He also noted alleged poll cheating in Cebu. He said that in some areas, 90 of the 91 percent registered voters reportedly went out to vote for Mrs. Arroyo.
"That is statistically impossible," Angara said.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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