Palace: Roxas not giving way to Poe
Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - August 12, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, the administration’s standard-bearer, is not likely to give way to independent Sen. Grace Poe despite surveys showing she has better chances of winning, Malacañang said yesterday.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda also said at a press briefing that the administration could not wait forever for Poe to decide whether she would run as vice president of Roxas.

Poe, without naming names, has wondered why she is the only one being asked to slide down to the vice presidential position and not the other persons who are interested in the presidency.

“The torch has been passed. The straight path torch has been passed to Secretary Mar Roxas and in the estimation, in the view of the President, Secretary Mar will be the best person to lead, to continue the straight path,” Lacierda said.

He reiterated that continuity was important and had proved effective in other countries such as China, Malaysia and Singapore regardless of political systems.

“If you look at them, what allowed them to progress? Continuity… So this is the framework where we’re coming from… We have that opportunity in more than a generation right now. We have the momentum to do continuity, and that’s the reason why we’re always emphasizing good governance, the reforms,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said Roxas was part of the straight path from the very beginning and has a track record in public service, citing the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry that the interior chief brought to the country.

On Poe’s stance of not coming up with a decision to run for a higher post sooner, Lacierda said, “Just for record – and I will say this with all the love – the truth is, there is really no forever.”

He stressed that he really could not speak for Poe and that they were still hoping she would consider the offer to be Roxas’ running mate “but, of course… we will arrive at that point whether she accepts or not.”

Lacierda said there are other personalities who could be Roxas’ running mate, like Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, but added that they were still looking at Poe at the moment.

Roxas, who was in Cebu City, said that while he admires Robredo’s unblemished record, Poe is still the top choice and that his invitation for the senator to become his running mate remains.

He added that he believes that Poe is Filipino and that he would not meddle if the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) would want to question this.

Still, with all the speculations, Lacierda said they would just have to wait for the decision of Poe. He added that he did not have any information if Roxas and Poe had already spoken after the interior chief confirmed on national TV that he invited the senator to be his running mate.

Poe clarified that she did not ask Roxas to become her running mate instead.

She stressed that running for public office is a sacrifice, but continued with a cryptic statement that appears to refer to Roxas.

“Maybe some are running because they want to achieve their plans that have been prematurely prevented. For me, running is about serving the people,” Poe added.

Roxas, who was supposed to run for president in 2010, gave way to then Sen. Benigno Aquino lll, who answered the calmer to run for president after the death of his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino.

NPC support

Lacierda is not bothered by the supposed support of the Nationalist People’s Coalition for Poe as prospective presidential bet and her perceived running mate, Sen. Francis Escudero.

“Some of the NPC congressmen were instructed by (NPC chairman emeritus Eduardo) ‘Danding’ Cojuangco (Jr.) and (businessman) Ramon Ang to meet with Secretary Mar Roxas, so that should be a message in and of itself. So how does the NPC take it? How does the public take it? It’s up to them,” Lacierda said.

He said despite earlier pronouncements from some NPC stalwarts that they would likely go for Poe and Escudero, they were also quoted as saying they would defer to Cojuangco.

NPC officials and members have separately met with Roxas over breakfast and with Poe and Escudero at dinnertime.

While Cojuangco and Ang asked their partymates to talk to Roxas, as Lacierda noted, Poe and Escudero were invited to the NPC dinner.

“I am not (a member of) NPC, and it would be too presumptuous of me, but all I can see are the optics of it all. So those optics can be subject to interpretation by political commentators and I am not in a position to say that,” Lacierda said.

Isabela Gov. Faustino Dy confirmed that Poe attended the NPC Tuesday meeting but stressed that the senator neither sought the party’s endorsement nor discussed future political plans.

Dy, the NPC chairman, said Poe’s stance was more like “testing the depth of waters before finally deciding to dive in.”

“It was just like she was trying to feel if the situation is ripe enough for her to run,” he added.

Dy told The STAR that the NPC, the second biggest political group in the country, held its general assembly to discuss their 2016 plans. Poe and Escudero were invited to the event.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, Roxas sought NPC support for his presidential bid but Dy said the group has not declared support for anyone.

At his level, Dy said Vice President Jejomar Binay is leading in his turf as the latter is considered a member of the Ibanag. The political clan of former House majority leader Rodolfo Albano Jr., which include his sons Rep. Rodolfo Albano III and Vice Gov. Antonio Albano, has as stronghold Cabagan town – also the birthplace of Binay’s mother, former school teacher Lourdes Cabauatan. – With Janvic Mateo, Raymund Catindig, Mitchelle Palaubsanon

ACIRC ANTONIO ALBANO BENIGNO AQUINO CAMARINES SUR REP LACIERDA NPC POE POE AND ESCUDERO ROXAS RUNNING SECRETARY MAR ROXAS
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