MANILA,  May 22, 2004
By Edu Punay  -  Supporters of evangelist standard-bearer Eddie Villanueva have broken away from the Bangon Pilipinas Movement (BPM) because of his refusal to concede defeat in the presidential race.

According to a BPM insider, most of their members are "Christian enough" to accept defeat and strongly believe Villanueva should concede.

The BPM standard-bearer said he would not concede to a president whose election was tainted with massive cheating.

"I was well-advised by my close friends to concede," Villanueva said in a statement, "but I just canít because this is my commitment to the truth."

He said "the alleged anomalies in connection with the polls are slowly gaining support from mounting evidence."

"We donít understand why he canít concede when heís not even in the close second or third spot of the race," the BPM source said in an interview.

In the partial and unofficial tally of the National Citizenís Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), Villanueva consistently remains in fourth place. As of Thursday night, Villanueva was almost six million votes behind President Arroyo.

Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) presidential bet Fernando Poe Jr. is ranked second in the Namfrel count, and lags behind the President by about 800,000 votes. The source said Villanueva should be content with the results of their 90-day campaign and accept the "will of God."

"We should not dissipate the gains that we have achieved in our campaign," the BPM insider said, explaining that their purpose of "delivering righteousness" has been accomplished.

The source said Villanueva should just move forward and cooperate to heal the divisiveness caused by the elections. The BPM insider also advised Villanueva to respect the rule of law and not be involved in any massive protests.

Earlier reports said members of Villanuevaís "Josiahís Army" are just waiting for the go signal for them to take to the streets in protest of the outcome of the elections, which they alleged was marred by massive cheating.

However, BPM spokesman Luis Sison immediately denied the claims, saying such reports could be part of a plot against Villanueva by his rivals.

Sison said they do not have any plans at the moment to join any massive protests. He said BPM is focused on collecting evidence of poll fraud in cooperation with opposition candidates and is "still consolidating the facts with the other opposition parties."

Sison said the evidence would include the anomalies documented by foreign observers to support their allegations of poll fraud, which they will present before the canvassing of votes by a joint session of Congress on Monday. He has also called for the resignation of Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials for not doing their jobs properly.

"The elections were messy and problematic," Sison said. "Even for the sake of delicadeza, they should resign."

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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