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‘Grace Poe has set mind on presidency’

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Grace Poe has decided to seek the presidency in the May 2016 elections, Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, acting president of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), said yesterday.

“From what I gathered, she has already fixed her mind on the presidency, and that won’t change. That is also true in the case of Sen. Chiz (Francis) Escudero,” Aggabao told a news conference, refering to Poe’s prospective running mate.

“I haven’t talked to any of them, but I learned that that’s the decision,” he added, refusing to reveal his sources.

Both Poe and Escudero have been coy about their 2016 plans.

Aggabao said the Poe-Escudero tandem would formally make a declaration next month ahead of the filing of certificates of candidacy in mid-October.

He reiterated the statement he made last week that most NPC members were inclined to support Poe and Escudero, though the two senators are not their partymates.

“The two will run as independents,” he said.

However, he admitted that their party has not formally met and voted to adopt Poe and Escudero as their presidential and vice presidential candidates.

After Aggabao made the statement last week, Batangas Rep. Mark Mendoza, NPC secretary general, clarified that their party has not made a formal decision to support the two senators.

Escudero was a member of NPC in 2009 but quit and eventually abandoned his presidential bid in the 2010 elections.

Poe won as senator in 2013 as part of the Liberal Party-led administration coalition.

As for Poe’s lack of experience, Aggabao said it’s a “debatable issue.”

He said US President Barack Obama had little experience in public office before seeking the presidency.

Asked if billionaire businessman Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco Jr., NPC founder and chairman emeritus, is supporting the Poe-Escudero tandem, the acting NPC chief said, “I haven’t talked to him.”

As for Cojuangco’s son Marcos, a former Pangasinan congressman who has expressed support for Vice President Jejomar Binay, he said, “At the end of the day, he would abide by the party’s decision.”

Former congressman Cojuangco is running for governor in Pangasinan. His brother Charlie, a former Negros Occidental congressman, has reportedly returned to Tarlac to seek a congressional seat.

NPC supported then senator Benigno Aquino III in the 2010 elections. Danding Cojuangco is Aquino’s uncle.

Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Dasmariñas City in Cavite, who is supporting the presidential bid of outgoing Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, has urged President Aquino and Roxas to immediately court LP’s allies in the administration coalition such as NPC, Nacionalista Party (NP) and National Unity Party (NUP).

Barzaga said he believes that Aquino could still convince NPC and former senator Manuel Villar’s NP to support Roxas.

“I am with NUP, but I am committed to Mar Roxas. I think I can convince many of my partymates to support my candidate,” he said.– Jess Diaz, Marvin Sy, Christina Mendez

ACIRC AFTER AGGABAO AGGABAO AQUINO BATANGAS REP BENIGNO AQUINO BOTH POE AND ESCUDERO CHRISTINA MENDEZ NPC POE POE AND ESCUDERO
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