MANILA,  JUNE 23, 2004
In a last-minute appeal, Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. urged Congress yesterday "to bring out the truth" in the election returns of the May 10 presidential race.

Poe issued his appeal on the eve of the plenary debates on the report of the 22-member joint committee on the recently concluded canvassing and the proposed resolution to proclaim President Arroyo.

At a press conference at the Makati City residence of Sen. Teresa Aquino-Oreta, Poe asked lawmakers to bring out the "true will of the people."

He said that only when the election returns are brought out could the lawmakers "look at their children and grandchildren straight in the eye that they brought out the truth."

"I’d like to tell our lawmakers that in the coming days the future of our country lies in their hands," he said.

Poe also warned that he may not be able to restrain the "hot-headed" elements in his camp who may resort to violence in protesting what they believe was a fraudulent election.

"We don’t like violence, we try to avoid violence. Pero ‘yung ibang tao diyan, mainit na. ‘Yung iba, mapipigilan namin. ‘Yung iba, ewan ko kung mapipigilan namin. (But some of our people are already fired up. We can restrain some of them. But I don’t know if we can stop the others)," he said.

But administration lawmakers issued their own challenge to Poe: Be "man enough" like Sen. Panfilo Lacson to accept defeat.

Marikina Rep. Del de Guzman said that the repeated claims of widespread cheating by Poe’s camp had already been overruled by the people and the Supreme Court.

"The Supreme Court has spoken with finality on the legality of the canvass. The people have spoken too on their choice through the ballots. Poe should be man enough to respect the people’s will and accept the reconciliation offer of the President to help the country move on," he said.

Cebu City Rep. Antonio Cuenco, a member of the congressional canvass committee, counseled Poe to follow Lacson’s lead to set aside politics and "give the President a break instead of continuously sourgraping and grumbling about being cheated."

But another committee member, Rep. Prospero Nograles of Davao City, wanted to bring out the child in Poe.

"The time has come for Poe to concede defeat, pick up his marbles and go on with life," he said. – Paolo Romero

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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