MANILA,  JUNE 7, 2004
By Nikko Dizon  -  On the prodding of his running mate, Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. has issued a statement borrowed straight from the Bible, saying he has forgiven Senator-elect Miriam Defensor-Santiago for her tirades against him.

Turning biblical, Poe said: "I forgive her, because as Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.’"

Poe, a movie actor before deciding to try his hand at politics, was quoted in a statement released by the FPJ Communication Group yesterday.

A source from the KNP told The STAR that Poe’s media handlers preferred not to have him dignify Santiago’s statements anymore.

But his vice presidential bet, Sen. Loren Legarda, suggested in a meeting that Poe should at least issue a short statement.

Santiago, a former critic of the Arroyo administration but who on the 11th hour ran under the President’s ticket, advised Poe last week to simply cry in private and go back to making movies so as to cope with losing in the May 10 elections.

At best, she said Poe can just join the government in its efforts to fight poverty.

Poe initially refused to dignify the unsolicited advise given by the comebacking senator even as his supporters took turns attacking Santiago.

The actor’s spokesman, Sorsogon Rep. Francis Escudero said Poe "will just respect her personal opinion."

However, the source said Legarda’s persuading powers as a former media personality did the trick for the usually close-mouthed Poe to make a comment, albeit a safe one.

"Her (Legarda’s) suggestion was well taken because of her experience as a journalist," the source said, referring to Legarda’s background as a broadcaster before she ran and topped the senatorial race in 1998.

"It would be rude also if we ignore the senator. So as not to be disrespectful to Senator Santiago, here is a nice answer without necessarily attacking her," the source pointed out.

In the statement, Poe said he was "forgiving" Santiago for what she apparently intended was a gibe or taunt.

Poe said he was far from "crying" as he was in fact "happy and humbly grateful to our people for supporting my candidacy."

Poe took the advice in "good humor," the FPJ Communication Group said.

According to the KNP source, Poe prefers to meet with his supporters personally to thank them for their support.

At the same time, he would explain the opposition’s issues of concern such as the constitutionality of having a joint congressional committee performing the canvassing of votes for president and vice president.

The opposition wants the entire body of Congress, sitting as national board of canvassers, to do the tallies leading to the proclamation of the winners before June 30.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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