BRO. EDDIE, BANGON WON'T JOIN RALLIES

MANILA,  May 20, 2004
(STAR)
Bro. Eddie won’t take his "Josiah’s Army" to the streets.

Luis Sison, spokesman for the Bangon Pilipinas Movement (BMP) which fielded televangelist Eduardo "Eddie" Villanueva as its standard-bearer, said there will be no rallies from their supporters to protest mounting allegations of massive electoral fraud.

Instead, the BMP called on Villanueva’s supporters to stay vigilant to ensure that votes for him will be counted.

"Bro. Eddie has not asked his supporters to march and demonstrate despite widespread reports of cheating and irregularities committed last May 10," Sison said.

"The supporters of Bro. Eddie will not march as a form of protest. The members of Josiah’s Army and all supporters of Bro. Eddie are not troublemakers," he pointed out.

It was earlier reported that Villanueva’s 3.2-million strong Josiah’s Army – a group of "born-again" Christian recruits who support the BMP standard-bearer and his platform of righteous governance – is planning to hold a nationwide protest march.

Villanueva, spiritual leader of the Jesus is Lord Christian movement which has some seven million members, can muster three million of his followers to gather as seen during his "miting de avance" last May 6 at the Quirino Grandstand at Manila’s Rizal Park.

Before that some one million people flocked to the grandstand in his grand rally last February.

Sison dismissed newspaper reports that Villanueva was quoted in a radio interview as saying he could no longer control his followers who want to take to the streets.

But he warned that questions of doubt will arise if cheating in the polls prevails.

"As long as there is a cloud of doubt that hangs over the election results, there is also a cloud of doubt that hangs over democratic institutions," Sison said.

He also emphasized that Villanueva will concede only when the true will of the people is made clear.

"Winning in the May 10 elections is not the end and sole purpose of our Operation Be Counted. We want genuine democratic institution and honest processes in this country," he said.

The political opposition has accused the administration of extensive cheating practices with its standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. using this as basis for his declaration of victory.

Poe’s camp has rejected quick count results showing President Arroyo leading the movie actor by over a million votes.

The opposition Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) claimed it has collected evidence to back its allegations of massive cheating. Malacañang hit back, challenging the KNP to file charges against Mrs. Arroyo.

Villanueva and former education secretary Raul Roco, who has conceded defeat to the President, have also raised concerns over reports that the polls were tainted by widespread fraud.

Meanwhile, Save the Philippines Movement chairman Manuel Lim Andrada advised Villanueva to concede defeat in the elections.

Andrada, himself a losing vice mayoral candidate for Manila, said Villanueva should "show his Christian values of humility and compassion by accepting reality that GMA, FPJ and Lacson are more popular than him."


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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