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CEBU, Philippines – Standing before Cebuanos at the Team PNoy campaign rally in Talisay City, senatorial candidate Grace Poe suddenly turned emotional Tuesday, February 19.
Cebu is the province that she said stole the presidency from his father, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr, in 2004. "FPJ lost here in Cebu by a very big margin," she noted.
What made the loss in Cebu more painful, she said, was that her father grew up in this province. That was when she paused to compose herself.
Poe lost to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo by 1 million votes, prompting the President to say in her inauguration speech in 2004, "Thank you, Cebu for making me President."
Newsbreak magazine later exposed Arroyo's huge margin in Cebu – as well as in Iloilo, Bohol, and Pampanga – as part of a pre-election special operation that involved carefully computed vote totals entered into blank election returns before Election Day. The operation was allegedly carried out by Arroyo's local allies.
Grace Poe stressed that she does not blame the Cebuano voters for his father's loss to Arroyo. "'Pag nakikita ko ang mga Cebuano, naaalala namin ang 2004, pero alam namin na hindi n'yo kasalanan," she said. (Whenever we see Cebuanos, we remember 2004, but we know it's not your fault.)
"It was the fault of a few people," she said. And this was the reason she did not attend the proclamation rally of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in Cebu last week, although she is a common candidate of UNA and the LP-led administration ticket.
"Bakit ako hindi sumama sa Cebu sa ibang entablado? Sapagkat napakasakit po ng nagawa nila noong nakaraan," she said.
Poe did not name names, but she was apparently referring to the family of suspended Gov Gwendolyn Garcia, UNA's allies, who was in power at the time of the 2004 presidential elections.
The governor then was Gwendolyn's father, Pablo Garcia, who is now a congressman.
In 2004, Arroyo was also honorary chair of the Liberal Party. Its stalwarts – including Team PNoy campaign manager now, Sen Franklin Drilon – worked for Arroyo's election. – Rappler.com
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