MANILA,  May 27, 2004
By Nikko Dizon   -  Opposition presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. said yesterday he has no reason to concede defeat in an election that he has won.

A statement from the FPJ Communications Group said the standard-bearer of the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) will not concede unless the canvassing is done fairly and in an orderly manner.

"Why should I concede?" Poe asked in the statement. "I and the people know that I won the elections. Only a fair and orderly canvassing would truly reflect the sovereign will of the electorate."

Poe warned Congress, sitting in joint session as the National Board of Canvassers, against "tailoring the rules on canvassing" to favor President Arroyo.

"(The proceedings) must be aboveboard and beyond reproach, otherwise the Filipino people will not accept it," he said.

Poe said the rules must not allow tampered certificates of canvass and those without statements of votes to be canvassed.

"This would only create doubts in the minds of the Filipino people that Congress is railroading the canvass," he said.

Last week, Poe declared his victory in Zamboanga City.

The following day, his spokesman, Sorsogon Rep. Francis Escudero, said Poe’s declaration was intended to boost his supporters’ morale.

During the three-month campaign, the KNP boasted that Poe would have a landslide victory, but the May 10 election appears to be a close fight between him and Mrs. Arroyo.

Meanwhile, the KNP denied police reports that it is behind efforts to destabilize the government to prevent Congress from canvassing the votes for president and vice president.

The KNP described intelligence reports released to the media as "another gimmick" to disrupt the public’s attention over alleged massive irregularities in the May 10 elections.

Quoting KNP lawyer and Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) spokesman Rufus Rodriguez, the statement said reports that the opposition has forged an alliance with the communists are "just an excuse by the government" to justify the use of extreme measures against legitimate forms of dissent.

"(The people) are increasingly outraged by growing evidence of electoral fraud and other forms of chicanery to make people believe Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo won the elections," the statement said.

"What we are actually seeing right now is the spontaneous coming together of various political groups who were victimized — threatened, cheated and harassed by the administration — to ensure Mrs. Arroyo is proclaimed as president no matter how fraudulent or coercive the methods it applied may be.

"If the country is in a destabilized state as the government claims, then this is largely due to its undoing."

Former representative Mike Romero, KNP spokesman, told ABS-CBN News Channel that it is National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzalez who is "destabilizing" the government by making false accusations against the opposition.

In a separate statement, Susan Tagle, head of the FPJ Communications Group, described as a "paranoid reaction by the government" police claims of destabilization by the opposition.

In Dagupan City, Poe told reporters he does not want an "EDSA 4" to happen amid protest rallies by his supporters who suspect massive electoral fraud in the May 10 elections.

Poe was in Dagupan City yesterday afternoon to seek spiritual guidance from Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan Oscar Cruz.

Poe told reporters after a 30-minute talk with Cruz that he had come to Dagupan to thank his supporters and volunteers, and to ask the advice of the archbishop, who is an old friend.

"I asked advice from the monsignor about what’s going on (in the country)," he said in Filipino. "I have known Bishop Cruz for a long time."

Before the elections, Poe also came to Dagupan to talk to Cruz.

Poe said he would visit Barangay Caoayan Kiling in San Carlos City, his father’s hometown, on his way back to Metro Manila.

Cruz, a vocal critic of the Arroyo administration, had exposed alleged irregularities at the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., a few weeks before the May 10 elections.

Meanwhile, Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay said yesterday the opposition has "tacitly admitted" that Poe has been defeated by Mrs. Arroyo when it tried to set aside the canvass of votes for president and vice president via a joint committee of Congress.

"This is merely a ministerial task, for Congress to open all the COCs and canvass the results for president and vice-president," he said in a statement. — With Eva Visperas

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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