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Mar Roxas appeals to Grace Poe: Let's talk

Philippine Presidential candidate Mar Roxas goes back to his seat shortly after signing the covenant for "truthful, responsible, upright, transparent, and honest" elections scheduled on May 9 at the Manila Cathedral in Manila, Philippines, Monday, May 2, 2016. Roxas and another candidate Vice-president Jejomar Binay are almost "statistical tie" in recent poll surveys behind front-runner Rodrigo Duterte and Grace Poe. AP / Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 2 | 7:21 p.m.) — Presidential candidate and administration bet Manuel "Mar" Roxas on Friday called on fellow candidate, Sen. Grace Poe, to have a talk "for unity" as rival Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte continues to top pre-election surveys.

"Grace, mag-usap tayo. I will adjust schedules to your convenience. Sabihin mo lang kung saan at darating ako," Roxas said in an announcement Friday afternoon at the Liberal Party headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City, according to reports by the STAR.

"Let's talk. This is for unity, our country and this is for our future," Roxas added.

Roxas said that while undecided voters are drifting toward supporting him, "uncertainty and the specter of a dictatorship are looming over our country again."

"The peso has dropped, affecting everything from the price of oil, medicines, steel, other imported goods; investors are putting plans on hold," he added.

He also criticized Duterte's leadership as caring "nothing about honesty, integrity, transparency, responsibility or even just basic decency."

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Roxas originally wanted to run for president in 2010 but decided to seek the vice presidency instead to give way to then Sen. Benigno Aquino III.

There was a clamor that time for Aquino to seek the presidency following the death of his mother, democracy icon and former President Corazon Aquino on Aug. 1, 2010.

Duterte, known for his tough talk and his shocking pronouncements, managed to retain his lead in presidential surveys despite allegations that he has hidden wealth. He got 33 percent in the Pulse Asia survey on presidential candidates conducted from April 26 to 29.

Roxas landed on second place with 22 percent followed by Poe with 21 percent. Vice President Jejomar Binay got 17 percent while Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago was chosen by 2 percent of the 4,000 respondents.

The mayor also emerged as the front-runner in the latest Social Weather Stations survey with 33 percent. Poe was chosen by 22 percent of the respondents while Roxas got 20 percent.

Binay, who defeated Roxas in the 2010 vice presidential race, was chosen by 14 percent of the 4,500 respondents while Santiago got 2 percent.

Reacting to a report that Poe declined to set a meeting with Roxas, Presidential Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III said Poe refused to heed the call for "unity versus dictatorship."

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Duterte's running mate, earlier said at a press conference in Taguig City that his camp received reports of an allegiance between Poe and the Liberal Party to work against Duterte.

"I believe that our people know who the real enemies are. Those who are afraid of the radical change that Mayor Duterte can bring, those who resort to desperate ploys such as this, they are the ones whom we should watch out for," Cayetano said at a press conference Friday.

Last year, Roxas's camp, led by President Benigno Aquino III, wooed Poe, a freshman senator and daughter of late frustrated presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr., to run for vice president under the Liberal Party's banner. Poe declined and instead launched a presidential campaign, enlisting Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero as her running mate. 

Camarines Sur Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo, widow of late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, is now running as Liberal Party vice presidential candidate. — Camille Diola and Alexis Romero with a report from Mike Frialde

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