FPJ, Sandra agree to forget the past
- Nikko Dizon () - April 4, 2004 - 12:00am
ILOILO CITY — Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. has taken the initiative to extend the olive branch to GMA-7 news reporter Sandra Aguinaldo.

Although he did not say the word "sorry," nevertheless Poe took the effort to extend a gesture of apology to Aguinaldo shortly after speaking before a political rally here Friday night.

But even with the smiles and the handshakes, Poe maintained that he was not angry at Aguinaldo for upstaging him during a rally in nearby Tigbauan town the day before.

"Sir, itatanong ko lang po bakit kayo nagalit sa akin (Sir, I just want to ask why you got mad at me), Aguinaldo told Poe after the two shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.

"Hindi ako nagalit, totoo yan (I did not get mad, that’s the truth)," Poe answered.

Aguinaldo, however, went on to say that she only wanted Poe to explain before television viewers what happened in Tigbauan.

"Well, I said, ‘Would you like to say something?‚ Yun lang ang sinabi ko. Yun lang. Ang lumabas sa reports, ‘Ikaw, na lang ang magsalita‚, which I never said," Poe said.

But when Aguinaldo maintained her side of the story in insisting that the actor even thrust a microphone at her when he blurted out those words, Poe cut her short and asked the television reporter "to put the incident behind them."

"I hope let’s forget about everything. If it’s okay with you. Let’s get together again. You do your job, I’ll do mine," Poe told Aguinaldo.

Before he went back to the stage, Poe told Aguinaldo that despite what had happened between them, he was keeping his promise of a one-on-one interview.

An estimated 10,000 people attended the rally at the Freedom Park in the city, one of President Arroyo’s known political bailiwicks.

Poe went on to grant interviews with journalists who patiently waited to finish his speech, standing alongside the now famous "hawi boys" of the actor within a distance away from the center stage.

Poe uncharacteristically answered every question thrown to him by the reporters, occasionally giving some them a pat on the shoulder.

Poe particularly looked in the direction of Aguinaldo and saw the television reporter struggling to catch up with the group.

Aguinaldo later told her colleagues Poe must have already understood her "stand-upper" routine. But she also expressed hope that the actor-turned-politician learned a lesson from the incident.
‘Two Different Generations’
Later, at a rally held in Bacolod City, actress Susan Roces, vouched for her husband, describing Poe as a "very patient person."

Roces stressed the physical effort required for Poe to attend every campaign rally across the country must have caught up with the actor that night when he figured in a tussle with Aguinaldo.

"But he is also a human being who gets tired. We all have our ups and downs," Roces said.

Roces pointed out their marriage as the best proof against reports of Poe’s supposed temper.

"Our marriage would not have lasted this long. Are you conditioning the mind of the public that he is a very cruel person? Roces later told reporters.

She explained that the different work demands from people from two different generations between Poe and Aguinaldo played an important role in the Tigbauan incident.

"As an actor for many years, he was trained to focus on his scenes. This is the orientation in the movies and also of traditional people. Pag may nagsasalita, makinig ka. (If there is somebody speaking, everybody should listen)," she said.

Roces admitted the new trend in broadcast journalism such as doing a "stand up" reporting with the source of the story as backdrop for the report must have confused Poe.

She said Poe is not used to the "sense of urgency" which characterized the news coverage as against being in the film industry for so long.

Aguinaldo claimed she was doing a stand up live broadcast with Poe speaking before a huge crowd as her background when the actor approached from behind and berated her for upsetting his speech.

"Kaya kung sino ang tama o ang mali, parehong tama, (The question of who among them did the right thing. Both of them were correct)," Roces said.

"Siyempre, naninibago kami sa sistema ng news kasi iba sa showbiz (Of course, we are not used to the system of news coverage because it is so different from show business)," Roces stressed.

Roces went on to put her arm around Aguinaldo’s shoulders and flashed a smile at the television reporter.

Poe’s media handlers, on the other hand, also tried to play up the incident as a case of "too much pressure and fatigue" on Poe.

His spokesman, Sorsogon Rep. Francis Escudero, earlier said there was nothing for Poe to apologize since there was no intention on the part of the actor to embarrass Aguinaldo.

Poe’s campaign manager Sen. Vicente Sotto III described the incident as a "comedy" worthy of April Fool’s Day.

He urged everyone involved to put the incident behind them and "put an end to this issue."

Sotto, however, admitted he was still sore at what happened between Poe and Aguinaldo. He said "people go overboard or overreact (to) certain things," referring to Aguinaldo’s getting a dressing down from Poe that night.
Wrong Script
Administration lawmakers Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero

Pichay and Bulacan Rep. Lorna Silverio said Poe might have been given the wrong script relegating his role into a villain in insulting Aguinaldo before the public.

Pichay said that Poe’s behavior defeats his promise to act as a peacemaker who will work for national unification if he wins.

Pichay noted Sotto’s earlier statements in describing the incident as a comedy worthy of April Fool’s Day and urged everyone to simply forget it.

Pichay said the incident should not be taken lightly since it was witnessed by millions on national television

It showed the real Poe who is incapable of playing the role of a peacemaker and fulfilling his promise to work for national unity, Pichay said.

He said it was unfortunate that Poe was already acting badly even if he has not won the elections.

"What more if Poe is elected president? The real Poe is coming out and people should be wary about electing an ill-tempered and character deficient candidate like him," Pichay said.

For her part, Silverio, vice chairperson of House committee on women, said Poe’s lack of diplomatic skills could lead the country to war if he is allowed to take the reins of power.

"If Poe cannot respect a woman like Aguinaldo, what will stop someone with character flaw like him to embarrass his critics and even heads of nations whom he will encounter in settlement of foreign issues," she said.

Administration senatorial candidate and former Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado said Poe indicates his "self-centered" style of governance.

"Kung gusto mo na lagi kang bida (If you want that you are always the star), you ruin the whole idea of governance which is consensus building," Mercado said.

Mercado said the incident could not be simply dismissed. He said Poe berating a television reporter in front of many people indicates his style of governance.

Mercado, a former radio reporter, also advised Poe to give journalists some "slack" in their coverage of his campaign sorties.

"The issue here is can you do your job under pressure? There was no attempt to steal the scene from FPJ (Poe). In politics, as in show business, we have to play supporting roles. We cannot always be a star. There are times when we take the center stage because we have a task to do and not because of our personality," he said.

Mercado also scored Poe for not appreciating the role of media in politics.

Lawyer Ed Araullo, convenor of the 3 Years is Enough! Coalition and a staunch Poe supporter. said the KNP presidential candidate merely reacted in a way a non-politician would react in a similar situation.

"(Poe) is not a politician," Araullo said. "He reacted in the way any person would have reacted. He was speaking when he lost focus after hearing the reporter speak. It was merely a reaction and does not speak about his style of governance." - With reports from Jose Rodel Clapano, Mike Frialde

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