Arroyo denies role in bid to discredit Poe

  • AseanPlus News
  • Sunday, 25 Jan 2004

MANILA: Philippine President Gloria Arroyo's camp Friday underlined it had no hand in a failed bid to have movie star Fernando Poe disqualified as a candidate in the May presidential election. 

Electoral officials on Friday threw out a petition by a lawyer to bar Poe from the presidential race citing questions about his citizenship. 

Arroyo's spokesman Ignacio Bunye stressed that the incumbent's camp welcomed the election overseer's decision. 

“We welcome the Comelec's (Commission on Elections) decision and we look forward to clean honest and orderly polls,” Bunye said. 

He said Arroyo decried “malicious reports” that her camp had a hand in attempts to discredit Poe, who is leading in popularity surveys ahead of the May 10 election. 

OUT OF CRISIS: Poe and vice-presidential candidate Senator Loren Legarda joining hands with the others during a mass in Manila.--APpic.

Poe's backers had accused the government of orchestrating the move after anti-Poe advertisements appeared in leading dailies last week. 

Detained ex-president Joseph Estrada, who is a close friend of Poe, alleged that the disqualification bid was a “hatchet job” against the candidate. But Bunye said the apparent “smear job is the handiwork of malicious quarters out to wreck both Poe and the administration.” 

Meanwhile, the government said it was ready to help Estrada secure a visa to the United States if a special anti-graft court allows him to seek medical treatment there. 

Foreign Secretary Delia Albert said yesterday her office was prepared to issue a formal diplomatic certification for Estrada once the court ruled on his request. 

Estrada last month secured a medical furlough from the court to allow him to have knee surgery in the United States on condition he returns here on March 31.  

But he was later summoned to the court after state prosecutors alleged that he planned to escape justice. – AFP 

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