MANILA,  JUNE 17, 2004
By Paolo Romero  -  A ranking Malacañang official has accused Koalis-yon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. of deliberately leading destabilization efforts against the administration.

President Arroyo’s campaign spokesman Michael Defensor said Poe appeared to be leaning toward the extremist faction of the KNP, which is advocating the destabilization and overthrow of the government.

"By coming out and going around and issuing such irresponsible and dangerous statements, FPJ is not only joining the destabilization but leading destabilization attempts," Defensor told a press conference at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City yesterday.

"His statements and acts make him dangerous to the State,"Defensor added.

On the other hand, Philippine National Police (PNP)chief Director General Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said Poe himself would be used in destabilization plots, with the communist New People’s Army (NPA) sending out hit men to assassinate the actor.

Ebdane warned of the alleged presence of two NPA leaders in Metro Manila allegedly planning to assassinate Poe, which would later be blamed on the Arroyo administration.

To prevent being the target of loose talk, Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye advised Poe to be more circumspect in his statements so as not "to produce consequences which we do not want to take place."

"We appeal to Mr. Ronnie Poe to be more circumspect in his statements and not to fuel any possible disturbance and we hope we will not come to that. We appeal to his good sense and spirit of sportsmanship," Bunye said.

"We do not know the reasons why he had made that particular statement but I believe in general that Poe is basically a gentleman," he stressed.

Bunye said the dilatory tactics employed by Poe’s allies in Congress, which have been causing the delay in the canvassing of votes, are a virtual admission that Mrs. Arroyo has won the May 10 elections.

But Bunye maintained Mrs. Arroyo fought her campaign "fair and square."

Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. on the other hand, appealed to Poe’s allies in the opposition to respect the canvassing process in Congress.

De Venecia also urged Poe against issuing more "inflammatory statements" and creating "an incendiary situation."

"These are sensitive times and we do not want to ignite any combustion," De Venecia said.

He called on Poe’s allies to refrain from plans of staging a walkout.

"Let us all be sober and quietly and calmly complete this ministerial task (of) canvassing the votes," De Venecia said. "We wish them (opposition) well."

Poe on Tuesday warned President Arroyo that she would end up as "bogus president" if she is proclaimed winner based on what he called "fraudulent results."

Defensor noted Poe’s supporters and allies are also issuing threatening statements in the past days. He said Poe’s statements in particular could be taken as a cue for his supporters and allies to proceed with destabilization plans.

Defensor said the country has already gone through the electoral process during the raucous 90-day campaign where candidates "hit each other and convince people to vote."

"The people have already decided and if you cannot accept defeat, then such statements are already destabilizing," Defensor said.

He warned Poe can be arrested if he goes overboard by inciting the people to overthrow the government.

Poe appears to be "collectively manipulated" by his handlers in the opposition, according to Defensor.

He said Poe might have been brainwashed by the more "extremist faction" of the KNP in his advocacy of a more radical means of changing the government leadership.

Poe and the KNP have been touring the country thanking his supporters.

In Malabon City, Poe declared the certificates of canvass (COCs) being tallied by Congress for the proclamation of president and vice president are all "fakes."

De Venecia, on the other hand, reminded Poe and his allies that the supposed "fake COCs" were the same documents used by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as basis in proclaiming the winning candidates from the KNP. "That I cannot understand," De Venecia later quipped.

‘A Puppet President’

Administration lawmakers also chided Poe for his statements, which "reflect his arrogance, lack of character and low regard for the electoral process."

Bacolod City Rep. Monico Puentevella said that instead of maligning Mrs. Arroyo, the actor should file a poll fraud complaint before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

"His (Poe’s) statement undermines the sovereign will of the people and the integrity of the joint canvass committee and the entire Congress which shall proclaim the winner," Puentevella said.

He stressed Poe and his allies have failed to prove their claim of massive electoral fraud.

Davao City Rep. Prospero Nograles said Poe has no right to describe Mrs. Arroyo as a fake president "because he (Poe) is not genuine" himself.

"And if he wins, he will just be a puppet of his advisers and handlers which makes his presidency bogus," he said.

Bulacan Rep. Willie Villarama said the statements by Poe were "scripted."

"He sounded like a delusional derelict who is president only in his own mind," he said.

Villarama claimed Poe has been setting the stage for a bigger plot against the government, noting that his followers welcomed him as "Mr. President" while announcing in front of his supporters he would not back down in his fight for the presidency.

"Apparently, the King of the Philippine Movies is hell-bent on following his own script, democracy and our Constitution be damned," Villarama said.

As for the complaint of the opposition that they were always being outvoted during the canvassing, De Venecia said "that’s what democracy is all about, the will of the majority prevails."

He said while the joint canvassing committee has accommodated the opposition, Poe’s allies have been ventilating the wrong issues.

About 200 Poe supporters filled up the south gallery of the Batasan to witness the progress of canvassing.

Poe was expected to show up yesterday and the cue for a walkout would be when he left the session hall.

De Venecia remains unfazed by the threat. He said if Poe’s allies in the joint committee decide to walk out, there will still be a quorum and the canvassing would continue. "A walkout leaves a bad taste in mouth," he said.


Sources in the military intelligence community disclosed yesterday the existence of three radical groups within Poe’s camp which are now being monitored.

Sources added the military is now gathering evidence against these groups whose activities have reached the top brass of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

"We’ve had reports indicating three radical groups within the FPJ camp are planning this destabilization move," the source said, further disclosing that each faction is headed by "three prominent opposition figures."

On the other hand, Ebdane said the PNP gathered the intelligence reports of alleged assassination plots against Poe by the NPA with the deployment of its two top commanders in Metro Manila.

Because of the alleged NPA assassination plot, Ebdane called on the KNP to coordinate with the authorities to review their security measures for Poe, who has embarked on a thanksgiving tour around the country.

Ebdane believed the communists will take advantage of the political tension caused by the alleged "no proclamation" and destabilization plots to put the blame on the administration in case Poe is harmed.

The PNP chief, however, did not discount the possibility that Mrs. Arroyo herself is the real target of the NPA. Bunye said the KNP should not shrug off the advice of Ebdane.

"Coming from the chief of the PNP himself, we believe that his information is based on credible sources and this information is something that should not be dismissed," Bunye said.

With these developments, a group of retired generals issued a strongly worded appeal to the country’s political leaders to exercise prudence.

The Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO) said it will not allow "power hungry politicians" to destroy the country and its institutions.

Referring to the delay in the canvassing in Congress, AGFO warned the continued delay of the proclamation of the winners in the May 10 presidential race will further destroy the country and its democratic institutions.

"It appears that certain politicians and their followers who oppose the expeditious counting of votes by the joint congressional canvassing committee ... are simply out to derail the process rather than in search for the truth intended to prevent the proclamation of the duly elected officials for selfish interest," AGFO said in a statement. - with Marichu Villanueva, Jaime Laude

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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