MANILA,  May 25, 2004
By Jefferson Antiporda and Ma. Theresa Torres, Reporters -  Disqualified presidential candidate Eddie Gil on Monday was proclaimed the “president of the people” by some 100 of his supporters at the historic Club Filipino, although he failed to participate in the May 10 election.

Gil was disqualified as a nuisance candidate in the presidential race by the Commission on Elections.

Malacañang, which earlier slammed opposition candidate Fernando Poe Jr. for announcing in Zamboanga City that he won the election, could only take Gil’s proclamation with “comic relief.”

The more than 100 supporters and members of the Isang Bansa, Isang Diwa Foundation, headed by Gil, trooped to a press conference at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan, where Corazon Aquino took her oath of office as the new president after the People Power Revolution ousted President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

This time, Gil’s supporters were at Club Filipino to proclaim him the new president of the country.

Gil’s supporters said they had been denied their right to choose their own presidential candidate when the Comelec disqualified Gil.

They believe Gil is the only hope of the 81 million Filipinos, who are mostly poor.

With Gil as president, they said, Filipinos can have “a peaceful and progressive life and a very positive future.”

Gil, who attended his proclamation, had not been informed about it despite the Comelec’s decision disqualifying him. Nevertheless he accepted the challenge given by his supporters.

“I am accepting the challenge of the 13.7 million members of the Isang Bansa, Isang Diwa, who never abandoned me and believe in me,” Gil said.

The Comelec had allowed Gil to run, but disqualified him later in the campaign.

After his proclamation, Gil said he would retain all members of President Arroyo’s official family but would include the controversial psychic Madam Auring in his Cabinet.

Madam Auring is his leading lady in his forthcoming debut movie, May Asim Pa.

Gil assured his supporters he would continue his mission to help the poor, despite his tight schedule in his newfound career in the music industry. He has been appearing on several shows in the ABS-CBN network.

Malacañang is thankful for the blessing that Gil’s proclamation brought in a tense situation owing to the allegations of massive electoral fraud in the election.

Gil’s proclamation managed to put a smile on everyone’s face, including Malacañang officials.

Instead of issuing a stern warning to Gil, as what the Palace did to Poe when he declared himself winner in the election, Malacañang shrugged off Gil’s proclamation as a “comic relief.”

“I believe we should be grateful to Eddie Gil for lessening the political tension by providing comic relief,” Ignacio Bunye, the President’s spokesman, said.

Bunye said Gil and Poe’s cases are very different.

“It is in the intent. One group is very serious about what it is doing. By his actuation, Poe’s proclamation tends to sow confusion among the electorate and the people, whereas the mock proclamation of Mr. Eddie Gil provides comic relief,” Bunye said.

Gil, who promised to pay the country’s more than P5-trillion debt, claimed he had 15 million supporters nationwide, enough to win him a six-year term in Malacañang.

Gil’s proclamation drew a sneer from the Poe camp, which said it only showed Gil was being used by the administration to mock the election.

Jun Villaroman, chair of Freedom, Peace and Justice Movement in Metro Manila, said Gil’s proclamation is part of the administration’s move to divert the attention of the people, who are appalled by its alleged attempt to rig the election.

“Who has the capability to make such a move? If the administration managed to use other candidates, it can also make use of Gil. That is how power-hungry this administration is,” Villaroman said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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