MANILA,  JUNE 24, 2004
By Jess Diaz  -  The rift between opposition standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. and independent presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson worsened yesterday when the latter told the movie actor that he is not a leader of the opposition.

"I suggest that he stop acting like the leader of the opposition because he is not. He has not experienced a bit of what I have gone through. We have never been on the same page in our lifetime and I see no reason why we should be," Lacson said in a statement.

The former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, who is vacationing in the United States, was obviously piqued by Poe’s statement on national television on Tuesday night that Lacson has shown his true colors.

"Lumabas ang tunay niyang kulay," Poe said, hinting that his opposition rival has been on the side of the Arroyo administration since before the elections.

The popular movie actor made the statement in reaction to Lacson’s appeal for political enemies of President Arroyo to give her a chance to rebuild the nation.

The opposition senator made the appeal a day after the joint Senate-House canvassing committee finished its tally of votes for president and vice president.

The results showed that Mrs. Arroyo defeated Poe, her closest opponent, by over a million votes. Lacson received 3.5 million votes.

Lacson said the statement containing his call "was plain as it was simple. It was a mere statement of fact with an appeal for sanity and sobriety especially to those who refuse to accept reality."

"If Mr. Poe failed to comprehend what I wanted to impart, I must give him allowance and I am sorry for him," he said.

During the election campaign, the two opposition candidates had tried but failed to unite against Mrs. Arroyo.

Some Poe supporters now say that had the unification pushed through, the President would now be packing her bags and preparing to leave Malacañang.

Lacson was Mrs. Arroyo’s most vocal and bitter critic during the campaign. He incessantly criticized the President and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, who made himself scarce upon advice of his wife’s media handlers and image builders.

In August and September last year, the former PNP chief made a three-part exposé in which he accused the President’s husband of allegedly hiding in several secret bank accounts about P260 million in supposedly illegal funds.

The First Gentleman has consistently denied the accusation.

After the elections, Lacson kept quiet, fueling speculations that he has sold out to the Arroyo administration. Lacson suspected that the "rumors" came from Poe’s camp.

He denied them, telling the critics: "Let them die sowing intrigues."

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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