May 27, 2006 (STAR) By Aurea Calica - Malacañang is hoping that the spouse of the late actor Fernando Poe Jr. will personally accept the national artist award on his behalf during ceremonies at the Palace on June 9.

The government wants actress Susan Roces to ignore the call of some members of the opposition to reject the award for her late husband.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita earlier said the Palace would prefer that the immediate family of the acknowledged "king" of Philippine movies accept the award for the sake of his fans and supporters.

But Ermita and Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said it would still be the personal decision of Poe’s family whether or not to accept the award.

Bunye hit those trying to inject politics into the posthumous awarding of Poe.

"Poisoned politics cannot even spare the memory of FPJ as an institution of Philippine cinema. Millions of Filipinos look at this award as a fitting recognition of their hero, leader and idol," Bunye said.

"It is highly disappointing that some politicians, for their own selfish ends, would even sacrifice the people’s aspirations," he said.

Ermita said he could understand the feelings of Roces and that her decision, whatever it is, would be respected.

Former senators Ernesto Maceda, Vicente Sotto III and Ernesto Herrera urged Roces to reject the award for Poe since the citation had already been politicized.

Roces said in an earlier interview with GMA News that she would not attend the awarding ceremony on June 9 in Malacañang. She was quoted as saying that while she appreciates the award, it would have been better if it were given by another president.

She has publicly accused President Arroyo of "stealing, not just once, but twice" the presidency.

She was referring to Arroyo’s assumption of the presidency after EDSA 2 that ousted President Joseph Estrada and to alleged cheating in the 2004 election.

Bunye appealed to the opposition not to play politics over the awarding. He said Poe’s contributions to the movie industry have always been recognized by Filipinos and the national artist award "reaffirms the faith and endearment reposed on his achievements and leadership.""

"Let not this tribute of the people be given any political color. We owe it to the memory of the late FPJ and the deserved pride and dignity of his loved ones and supporters," Bunye said.

Sotto said there was no need for Malacañang’s recognition for Poe. "(For) the people who loved FPJ, he has been a national artist. We do not need this conferment by Malacañang. It is not necessary, he has been a national artist," Sotto said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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