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Grace: Noy wants me as Mar’s VP

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - He didn’t have to say a word; his body language said it all: President Aquino wanted Sen. Grace Poe to be the running mate of his preferred successor, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

 

This was according to Poe herself, in an interview over ANC News Monday night. She said it was her reading of what the President might have wanted to tell her directly – but did not – during their three long dinner meetings recently.

It was the first time Poe had disclosed substantial information about her meetings with the President, wherein Roxas was also present at least twice, along with Sen. Francis Escudero.

“It’s pretty clear that Secretary Mar wants to run for the presidency, so the talks that we’ve had were perhaps to be part of that, if I decide to join the team. It will probably be as his vice president,” she said.

Roxas is the presumptive presidential candidate of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) in the May 9, 2016 elections. Aquino is expected to declare him as his preferred successor before the week is over.

Roxas is faring badly in surveys, while Poe has dislodged Vice President Jejomar Binay from the top spot in popularity surveys among possible presidential candidates for 2016.

Poe, however, emphasized the President did not indicate in clear terms that he wanted her to be Roxas’ running mate.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said Aquino was too polite to tell Poe directly of his wish.

Abad said the President did not want to offend or insult Poe, daughter of the late popular actor Fernando Poe Jr.

Poe told ANC that she was still in a “period of discernment” and that she has not yet decided whether to run next year or which higher office to aim for.

She has just been in public office for three years, having won as senator as part of the LP-led administration coalition in 2013.

Sen. Serge Osmeña III, who was her political adviser-strategist in her senatorial run, has advised her to run for vice president to prepare her for the highest office in the 2022 elections.

She is likely to remain a dominant political personality in 2022, he said.

However, several political observers believe that Poe is now bent on running for president next year, with Escudero as her vice presidential candidate.

Aquino met twice with Poe and Escudero, with Roxas in attendance in both meetings. Abad was present in the second meeting that lasted over five hours.

Last week, the President had a one-on-one meeting with Poe for five hours.

In her previous statements, Poe said Aquino had impressed upon her and Escudero the need for the administration coalition to remain intact so it can prevail in next year’s elections. By keeping the coalition intact, the President expressed belief his successor would be able to pursue the reforms and advocacies he has started.

During his sixth and last State of the Nation Address on Monday, Aquino heaped praise on Roxas.

“To Secretary Mar Roxas: whether you are in or out of government, the enemies of the straight path (daang matuwid) have not stopped criticizing you,” he said. “Because you count, because your words matter, they have continued to do their best to put you down. Through their constant attacks on your character, your critics themselves have proven that they are afraid of your integrity, skills and ability to do the job. It’s only because they have nothing to boast of that they’re trying to bring you down,” Aquino said.

“Mar, you are proving: You can’t put a good man down. Just as my mother and father had faith, so too should you have faith that our countrymen know who truly puts the country before self,” he added.     

The President also said he would consider next year’s elections as a referendum on his administration’s performance. 

 

Trust for women

In an interview with reporters yesterday, Poe said one of the things that stood out in Aquino’s SONA is his high respect and trust for women as leaders.

Poe pointed out that the personalities commended by the President in his SONA were mostly women.

Commended by Aquino in his SONA were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, former Commission on Audit chairma Grace Pulido-Tan and Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares.

“All of the important and key positions in his government who come out with tough decisions are women,” Poe said.

“So I am grateful to the President for seeing the potential and courage of a woman,” she added.

The faces of Poe, Roxas and Vice President Jejomar Binay were flashed on the giant screen during the SONA at the point where the President was talking about the need for someone who would continue the reforms he initiated during his administration.

Poe said she felt very awkward when she saw her face on the big screen since she has not even decided yet on her plans for the 2016 elections.

“It was very awkward because Vice President Binay is already sure (of running for president) and we all know that majority of the people there are from the Liberal Party and that explains Secretary Mar. I suppose they didn’t want to have the two side-by-side so they placed me in the middle,” Poe said.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez said President Aquino would definitely endorse Roxas, possibly before the end of the week. Benitez is the LP chairman for Western Visayas and Negros Occidental. With Marvin Sy, Danny Dangcalan

ABAD ACIRC ALFREDO BENITEZ AQUINO LIBERAL PARTY NBSP POE PRESIDENT PRESIDENT AQUINO ROXAS SECRETARY MAR
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