Opposition wants Kiko back

PHILIPPINES NEWS SERVICE — DAGUPAN CITY, Pangasinan—Genuine Opposition senatorial candidates yesterday pleaded with Senator Francis Pangilinan to show up for their proclamation rally on Saturday in Plaza Miranda, Manila.

“Kiko, wherever you are, please attend and join us this Saturday,” said former Senator Nikki Coseteng, referring to Pangilinan by his nickname after several sorties in Pangasinan towns.

She said she hoped Pangilinan, who has not showed up for a single opposition sortie, would do so at the grand proclamation and campaign for the rest of the GO candidates.

Pangilinan, a candidate of the Liberal Party wing opposed to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was adopted by GO as its 12th senatorial candidate.

“We hope that he would carry us during his sorties because we are doing the same for him,” Coseteng added.

Another senatorial candidate, Aquilino Pimentel III, said he understood that Pangilinan already had his own 90-day campaign mapped out.

“We know that he has already scheduled his sorties. That’s why you can’t see him with us,” Pimentel said.

He said other GO members—Reps. Alan Peter Cayetano and Benigno Aquino III—were busy at the Commission on Elections trying to get their namesakes disqualified as nuisance candidates.

In his public statements, Pangilinan has been cool about being included in the opposition slate.

But Pimentel tried to play down his absence from the campaign and the likelihood that he would not show up on Saturday for the grand proclamation.

“But coming out with 11 out of 12 candidates during the proclamation is not bad, I think,” he said.

On Wednesday, the opposition candidates resumed their sorties in Pangasinan, spreading out to cover more ground.

They regrouped at the University of Luzon in Dagupan City to hold a forum with students and faculty members, but the event was canceled for lack of time.

Pimentel said they would have to return to Manila soon to iron out details of Saturday’s motorcade.

Pimentel, a lawyer, dismissed a statement by Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos, who said the GO might not be eligible to receive the sixth copy of the election returns.

“That’s his opinion,” he said, adding that “a little common sense” should be applied to the question. The sixth copy was provided to the dominant minority party precisely so they could guard their votes, he said.

Former Senator Loren Legarda, who had left the group, arrived in a chopper in Lingayen, where she met with a minister of the Iglesia ni Kristo. She then proceeded to Manaoag to call on local officials.