MANILA,  JUNE 8, 2004
By Jess Diaz  -  Independent opposition pre-sidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson said yesterday two Malacañang emissaries separately offered him a Cabinet post in exchange for conceding defeat in the May elections.

Addressing a forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, Lacson also said he and House Minority Leader Carlos Padilla, his lone senatorial candidate, spent between P200 million and P300 million for their campaign.

He said the supposed Palace offer was made a week after the May 10 elections. He did not name the emissaries who allegedly made the offer on separate occasions.

He said he has always frowned upon deals, including those he claimed the camp of his opposition rival, movie actor Fernando Poe Jr., had offered him in the middle of the election campaign in exchange for his withdrawal from the presidential race.

He added that he has refused to concede defeat in fairness to those who voted, supported or campaigned for him.

Lacson has been mostly silent since a day after the elections, fueling rumors that he has sold out to Malacañang.

But the former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief has angrily dismissed the rumors, declaring, "I cannot be bought!"

"Let them die sowing intrigues," he said, referring to rumor mongers.

As for his campaign expenses, he said his fund handlers are now making a detailed accounting which they will submit to the Commission on Elections.

Under election rules, a candidate for national office can spend P10 per voter.

Lacson is represented by four lawyers in the ongoing canvass of votes for president and vice president by a Senate-House joint committee. His lawyers include Consuelo Zamora, a daughter of San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, who was his campaign manager.

Based on the tabulation made by the administration K-4 coalition, the former PNP chief obtained nearly 3.5 million votes, placing third behind President Arroyo and Poe.

During the campaign, he had promised that he would give up his Senate seat if he received fewer than three million votes as the surveys had predicted.

Lacson, who still has three years to serve as senator, said yesterday the proposed anti-corruption movement he hopes to lead would run after government officials and their civilian counterparts involved in anomalous infrastructure projects.

He said they already have a draft of names for this graft watchdog. "I ran on a platform of good governance that would fiercely fight graft and corruption. I vow to continue that fight. We are now in its formative stage," he said.

Lacson said the movement’s strategy is to "change the current perception (of) government people."

"All reports and information collected... will be treated with confidentiality especially in cases of incomplete date in adherence to its policy of full transparency of operations," he said.

He said the crusade will focus not on personalities but on government projects such as substandard roads and bridges, overpriced book printing and overpayment of services and illegal bidding. — With Jose Rodel Clapano

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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