Report: Philippine action star to run for president in 2004

TERESA CEROJANO, Associated Press Writer

Top Philippine action film star Fernando Poe Jr. will follow in the footsteps of close friend Joseph Estrada and run for president in 2004, but he hasn't decided on a running mate or political party, a news report said Sunday.

The Philippine Star newspaper quoted the highly popular Poe -- nicknamed "Da King" -- as saying he didn't have political ambitions but was giving in to popular opinion by running.

Poe, 64, told several reporters he was still consulting with supporters in a "wait and see" situation. But a close political ally said Poe planned to run.

"I cannot turn my back on the people. I cannot be deaf to their clamor," the Star quoted him as saying.

Estrada -- also a former action film star -- was elected president with the Philippines' highest-ever victory margin in 1998. He was ousted in January 2001 by mass protests over his alleged corruption and misrule, and is on trial for the capital offense of plunder.

Poe, asked why he thought he'd make a good president, reportedly told the Star: "Because I am not beholden to anybody" and "because I am not corrupt."

Poe started appearing in movies in his teens and has never held public office. But he's been under increasing pressure from politicians, supporters and Estrada to seek the presidency.

If he runs for the May 2004 vote, Poe would likely appeal to the Philippines' impoverished majority -- the same group that widely supported Estrada.

The newspaper said Poe would run under the banner of a major opposition party because he felt he needed the political machinery.

He also reportedly sees President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as the candidate to beat, because she's the incumbent -- but said that he will always consider her a friend.

Also touted as possible candidates are former national police chief Panfilo Lacson, who has accused Arroyo's husband of corruption, and businessman Eduardo Cojuangco.

Poe, after meeting Sunday with supporters at his production company office, wouldn't confirm or deny reports that he'd run. He told reporters outside the office that there was nothing stopping him from running, "but I'm ... still communicating with a lot of people."

"As of now, it's a wait-and-see (situation), but we'll get there," he added.

Boots Cadsawan, president of the FPJ for President Movement -- FPJ stands for Fernando Poe Jr. -- claimed Poe had said in the meeting that he'd enter the race for the good of the nation.

Cadsawan said his group has 8,000 coordinators nationwide, and has gathered at least 2 million signatures backing Poe's candidacy.

23/11/2003

Bron : San Francisco Chronicle

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