CORY ON BISHOP SUGGESTION:  LET'S WAIT FOR CANVASSING TO FINISH

MANILA,  May 18, 2004 (STAR) Former President Corazon Aquino said it was not yet time for another unity Mass similar to the one held on the eve of elections, but thanked the bishop who suggested it amid widespread accusations of fraud in the May 10 polls.

"I thank Bishop (Fernando) Capalla for his kind words on the unity Mass we had at the San Agustin Church on the eve of the elections. But at this time, I think it is best that we wait until after the canvassing," Mrs. Aquino said in a statement.

The former president was one of the organizers of the Mass last May 9 at the San Agustin church in Intramuros, Manila, wherein all five presidential candidates were together for the first time since the three-month campaign began.

President Arroyo, Fernando Poe Jr., Panfilo Lacson, Eddie Villanueva and Raul Roco heard Mass officiated by Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales.

In his homily, Rosales remarked that the nation was as divided as it had been 58 years ago –in 1946 after the conclusion of the Pacific War and just before being granted independence from the United States.

Aquino, who said the presence of the five candidates in the Mass was a sign of hope, instead reiterated the power of prayer in the aftermath of fractious elections.

"We can all pray individually for all presidential candidates and for our own country," she said.

Partial unofficial counts have Mrs. Arroyo leading over her main challenger Poe by about a million votes. Lacson is in third, followed by Villanueva and Roco.

Roco, the former education secretary of the Arroyo administration, has already conceded defeat, while Lacson has remained level-headed and sober amid threats of mass actions to protest alleged fraud.

Poe’s handlers have said that the actor would not be able to control his followers who might take to the streets, while Villanueva said he also smelled something fishy in the count and raised the spectre of another people power.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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