PALACE:  NO DEAL WITH PING; POE: PING ALL ALONG AN ALLY OF ARROYO

MANILA,  JUNE 23, 2004
(MALAYA) 
Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye yesterday belied reports the administration had struck a deal with Sen. Panfilo Lacson when the senator conceded her victory.

"I believe Senator Lacson has realized that the people of the Philippines have spoken," he said.

Asked if Lacson would be an asset to the Arroyo administration, Bunye said: "He has his good points... and these are the good points by which about three million people voted for him."

The Lacson concession drew a different spin from Fernando Poe Jr., who said it merely confirmed that Lacson was all along an ally of Arroyo.

"Lumabas na ang totoong kulay niya. Kakampi niya talaga si Mrs. Arroyo bago pa man mag-eleksyon," Poe said. "His intention to run was intended to divide the opposition."

Poe also doused cold water on Mrs. Arroyo's call for reconciliation. "I don't think that (Mrs. Arroyo) is sincere. How can you be sincere when you are hiding the truth?"

Lito Banayo, Lacson's spokesman, denied reports that the senator has entered into a compromise with Malacaņang, particularly on the Kuratong Baleleng case, in which the senator is a co-accused.

"Sen. Lacson is sincere in his desire to help rebuild the nation ... Ang sinasabi lang namin, we are responding sa sinabi ni GMA na she wants to reconcile," he said.

"Ating tulungan si Mrs. Arroyo. At kung makakita tayo ng sinseridad on the part of Mrs. Arroyo, we might as well hearken to the call para naman isaayos ang ating bansa," he added.

Banayo also said Lacson was simply accepting the political reality that the official canvass of Congress has reflected that Arroyo has won.

He said Lacson will remain an independent oppositionist. "He will not oppose for the sake of opposing. Kung maganda ang panukala, susuportahan niya. Pero di niya kailan man itatatwa ang kanyang role bilang watchdog at fiscalizer ng administration. Lalong-lalo na sa issue ng corruption," Banayo stressed.

Banayo said Lacson would pursue the Jose Pidal case against Mike Arroyo. "Patuloy po iyan sapagka't di niya inaatras ang akusasyon niya sa Pidal," he added.

The camp of Bro. Eddie Villanueva said they are open to unification as espoused by Lacson.

"We are willing to smoke the peace pipe and work for a better future but that would be only if we finally see that the elections are proven to be fraud-free," Luis Sison, Villanueva's spokesman, said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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