LACSON: I URGE ALL TO LEAVE POLITICS BEHIND, GIVE GMA A CHANCE
MANILA, JUNE 22, 2004 (STAR) By Jess Diaz - Defeated independent presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson urged the public yesterday to give President Arroyo, the "clear winner" in the May 10 elections, a chance to rebuild the nation.
In a statement, Lacson said now that the joint congressional canvass showed Mrs. Arroyo defeating opposition standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. by more than a million votes, "I am urging everybody to leave politics behind and give the president-elect a chance to rebuild the country."
"While I am willing to do my part in the rebuilding effort, at the same time, I am renewing my pledge to fight graft and corruption in government and I will remain as a watchdog and fiscalizer in the Senate, even in my personal capacity as a citizen and a taxpayer in this country," he said.
The former Philippine National Police chief asked Poe and other people questioning the victory of Mrs. Arroyo to "seek redress with the proper body mandated under the Constitution as the arbiter of electoral protests."
"As for myself, I have stated during the campaign that any candidate who fails to protect his votes deserves to lose," he said.
Lacson obtained 3.5 million votes. During the campaign, he promised to quit as a senator if he received three million votes or fewer as surveys showed he was worth.
Lacson and Poe had tried to unite, meeting several times in Metro Manila in between provincial sorties, but in the end, they went their separate ways.
In hindsight, some opposition leaders are now saying that had Poe and Lacson merged their forces, Mrs. Arroyo would now be packing her bags and preparing to move out of Malacañang.
Lacson was the most vocal and bitter critic of Mrs. Arroyo during the election campaign, but kept his peace shortly after the May 10 balloting. He has been rarely heard of since then, fueling speculations that he has sold out to the Arroyo administration.
He denied the speculations, telling those spreading the reports: "Let them die sowing intrigues."
He became an independent candidate after his political party, the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, junked him in favor of Poe, who was supported by LDP president Sen. Edgardo Angara.
Lacson anchored his campaign on his crusade against graft and corruption. In August and September last year, he made the Incredible Hulk-Jose Pidal exposé in which he accused First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo of allegedly hiding P260 million in supposedly illegal funds in secret bank accounts.
Arroyo has consistently denied the accusation. He has pending libel charges against his tormentor.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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