MANILA,  JUNE 13, 2004
Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal scored the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) yesterday for its attempts to portray the elections in the province as marked by widespread fraud.

Vidal lambasted the KNP for its use of masked witnesses to recount alleged incidents of election fraud committed by the administration.

On Thursday, KNP lawyers Rufus Rodriguez and Jess Casila paraded before the media in Cebu 10 masked witnesses who supposedly took part in election irregularities in the province.

"If I have something true to say, why should I be afraid?" Vidal said in an interview with a Cebu local newspaper.

The Church was part of the Cebu Citizens’ Involvement and Maturation in People’s Empowerment and Liberation (C-CIMPEL), the citizens’ arm of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Cebu.

"We in C-CIMPEL finished our job in the elections and we were bare. We did not have to hide our faces," Vidal said.

He denied reports that circulated in Cebu that he wanted a recount of votes in the Visayas.

"I have never said that. My God! Wow! What belongs to the government belongs to the government," Vidal told a delegation from the Promotion of Church People’s Response who visited him yesterday.

The Cardinal also criticized supporters of the KNP for injecting political color into their prayer vigil last week at the grounds of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

"It is for adoration not for political purposes," he said. "They should guard the Tent City that it will not be used for anything, only for prayer and adoration."

Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye also laughed off the KNP lawyers’ presentation of people it claimed were witnesses to massive cheating in Cebu.

The witnesses presented by the KNP wore denim pants, t-shirts, rubber slippers and towels to cover their faces when presented to media in Cebu City.

"The funny thing is (the KNP was) making the presentation to the media, but not to the proper authority that can conduct the investigation and prosecution of these (poll fraud) cases," he said. "So we believe that all this show is just for media hype."

Maduramente said the Cebu incident is "another act of desperation by the KNP leaders, who are being beaten at every turn in the run-up to the proclamation."

The KNP has been consistent in its criticism of the conduct of the May 10 elections.

Yesterday, it condemned President Arroyo’s failure to submit a statement of her personal campaign expenses as another "attempt to sanitize" what it believes to be a fraud-tainted election.

A statement from the FPJ Communication Group described the administration as not just "content with sanitizing certificates of canvass (CoCs)" but "keen as well in sanitizing its own campaign expenses." — With Nikko Dizon

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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