Profile: Fernando Poe Junior

Fernando Poe Junior has been a household name in the Philippines since the 1950s.

One of the country's most famous film stars, he is now in the spotlight for a different reason - as a candidate for president in 10 May elections.

Mr Poe has a huge fan base from his days as an actor - when he was known as "Da King" or FPJ - but he is a complete newcomer to politics.

Some business leaders have expressed their concern at his lack of experience. The peso hit an all-time low against the dollar after Mr Poe entered the presidential race in November 2003.

But in the Philippines, personalities rather than issues tend to dominate election campaigns, so Mr Poe's lack of experience may not prove so much of an obstacle.

Mr Poe is a close friend of former President Joseph Estrada - another actor-turned-politician who was forced from power by popular protests in 2001.

But detractors say Mr Poe is not as effective as Mr Estrada at winning the hearts and minds of Filipino voters.

He often appears tongue-tied in public, and is often reluctant to engage in public speaking.

He also lacks a coherent political platform, speaking broadly about elevating the poor and unifying the nation but without giving many details.

Film accolades

The 64-year-old actor was born Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, but changed his name to that of his film star father later in life.

He did not complete high school, but went on to win numerous awards and prizes as an actor and film director.

Since the 1950s he has played stoic heroes who fight for the common man - and he is capitalising on this image in his presidential campaign.

When Mr Poe announced his intention to stand, he said he did not want to become president through personal ambition but because of pressure from the public.

A coalition of opposition parties are backing his campaign because of "his patriotism and humanity... his behaviour as a family man... and his success in the movie industry".

Although comparisons have been made between Fernando Poe and Joseph Estrada, Mr Poe's reputation is very different to that of the womanising and gambling ex-president.

Mr Poe has a family-friendly image, which was marred somewhat by an admission that he fathered a child out of wedlock, but this does not seem to have seriously damaged his electoral chances.

More detrimental is the allegation that Mr Poe intends to pardon Mr Estrada if he is elected.

The flamboyant ex-leader is currently detained in a military hospital outside Manila, while on trial for bribery and corruption.

Another issue which has marred Mr Poe's campaign is a dispute over whether he could even stand as a presidential candidate at all.

Born to an unmarried American mother, doubts were raised about his Philippines citizenship.

But in March the Supreme Court in Manila ruled that he was an eligible candidate.

06/05/2004

Bron : BBC World

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