LP may field party outsider in 2016

Marvin Sy - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - A senior member of the Liberal Party (LP) revealed that an outsider like Sen. Grace Poe could be considered as the party’s standard-bearer in the 2016 presidential race – something President Aquino had also said in the past.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told Senate reporters that the LP has always engaged in coalition politics and so any politician, regardless of party affiliation, could be considered as its candidate.

The possibilities include senators Poe and Francis Escudero, whose names have consistently cropped up among the possible presidential and vice presidential candidates of the LP for the 2016 polls.

Both senators were also among those invited to the LP Christmas party that was held last week at Malacañang, prompting speculations that they are being considered as possible candidates of the party.

Poe in particular has gained a lot of attention because of her steady rise in the surveys on voter preferences for the 2016 elections.

In the latest survey of Pulse Asia, Poe managed to get 18 percent of the votes of respondents in the November survey, up from 10 percent in the September survey.

Poe’s rise dislodged Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II from second place in the survey.

Abad said that the recommendation of the President, as chairman and titular head of the LP, would still carry a lot of weight in the selection of the party’s standard-bearer in the 2016 elections.

During the LP Christmas party, Abad said that there was no talk of politics, although many in attendance could not avoid but joke about Poe as a possible candidate.

According to Abad, what is clear right now is that the trend in the surveys showed Vice President Jejomar Binay’s ratings are going down.

Binay, who has been leading the pack on presidential preferences, has suffered a decline in the past few surveys.

From a high of 41 percent in July, the rating of Binay has gone down from 31 percent in September to 26 percent in the November survey.

The decline in the ratings of Binay could be attributed to the controversies that have been raised against him, including the alleged kickbacks he received from the overpriced infrastructure projects of the city government of Makati when he was still city mayor and the various real properties that he supposedly owns but did not declare in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.

“What is consistent and clear as far as trend is concerned, is the downslide of the Vice President. All the others are erratic,” Abad said.

“So there’s no basis for any firm decision yet. But what is clear is the trend insofar as the Vice President is concerned, consistently going down,” he added.

According to Abad, if the current trend continues and ratings of the top candidates end bunched up, then a repeat of the 1992 presidential elections could emerge.

“That’s one trend and if that happens, it becomes an open race. Is it going to be an open race like circa 1992 where 23 percent can win?” Abad said.

He recalled that the 1992 presidential elections saw Fidel Ramos, who won the election, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and businessman Eduardo Cojuangco were all closely ranked.

If an open race like the 1992 elections takes place again in 2016, Abad said that the endorsement of the President would be a huge factor as far as winning is concerned.

Abad clarified though that Roxas still has the inside track as far as the LP is concerned.

“Of course Mar Roxas has an advantage because he’s always been there. He’s a party man, he’s loyal, he gave way. Is he it? It’s still 17 months to go,” Abad said.

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