Deposed leader Joseph Estrada tries to reconcile two opposition candidates Ousted president Joseph Estrada is trying before Christmas to reconcile two feuding opposition candidates for the presidency: his bosom buddy, actor Fernando Poe Jnr, and his former national police chief, Senator Panfilo Lacson. Poe, however, pre-empted a reconciliation meeting by formally accepting yesterday a nomination to become presidential standard-bearer for one bloc of the split opposition. Estrada, who is in custody facing graft charges, told Senator Lacson's campaign manager, congressman Ronaldo Zamora, that he wanted the meeting. 'He told us he will get them together, just the two of them, before Christmas,' Mr Zamora said. Both camps believe only Estrada can avert a serious split in the opposition that would dim their chances of returning to power and getting the deposed president out of jail. Earlier, congressman Abraham Mitra said: 'We have been asking long before that he [Estrada] intercede before anything bad happens to the coalition, but we are not getting any reply from him.' Estrada finally agreed to 'provide the opportunity' for the two presidential hopefuls to meet in his detention cell in a remote army camp outside Manila. But Poe may have deepened the divisions by accepting his nomination by one faction of the opposition. In a short and simple ceremony he said 'I, Fernando Poe Jnr, am accepting and recognising, with all humility, the nomination as presidential standard-bearer of the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino [Coalition of United Filipinos].' This coalition consists of a wing of the largest opposition party, the Struggle of the Democratic Filipinos (LDP), headed by Senator Edgardo Angara; a bloc in Estrada's Party of the Filipino Masses (PMP); and the PDP-Laban Party of Senator Aquilino Pimentel. Bickering within the LDP has turned vicious, with the rival Poe and Lacson camps in the party trying to expel or strip each other of authority. Pro-Poe Senator Angara earlier suspended pro-Lacson congressman Agapito Aquino as LDP secretary-general. Mr Aquino not only defied his suspension but on Saturday told LDP regional officials that Senator Angara had been 'suspended' and 'stripped' of all authority after being found 'guilty of disloyalty, acts inimical to the party and culpable violation of their bylaws'. He also instructed the Commission on Elections to recognise only his signature, not that of Senator Angara's, in the certificates notifying the poll body of the official list of LDP party candidates for next year's elections. Both sides are now busy counting heads for a looming showdown. The rift has given the ruling Lakas Party ammunition against Poe's assertion that he is the only candidate who can bind the nation's wounds and become the 'unity president'. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's spokesman, Michael Defensor, said: 'How can the opposition be expected to unite the country if it can't even unite its own group?'