Mar urged: Let go of Poe

Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - August 20, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II should let go of Sen. Grace Poe if he fails again to get her nod to be his running mate in next year’s elections.

The advice came from Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., although he expressed optimism that Poe would eventually make up her mind and take Roxas’ offer.

“I hope they are successful together, but definitely if still nothing happens, then for sure he should move on,” Belmonte told reporters on the sidelines of the turnover of 94 housing units to squatter families in Barangay Culiat, Quezon City Tuesday afternoon.

Asked about the possibility of Poe finally turning down Roxas’ offer, Belmonte replied, “I hope it doesn’t reach that point.”

In several meetings with Poe recently, Roxas tried but failed to get her commitment to be his running mate. The interior secretary is running under the administration Liberal Party. Poe has no party but she ran for senator in 2013 under the LP-led coalition.

Roxas earlier said he was not yet giving up on Poe. While she has not openly rejected Roxas’ offer, Poe said he and the LP should not wait for her decision.

She had told Roxas to “show leadership” and stop his allies from  “dirty tricks” questioning her citizenship and residency. The LP has denied involvement in the challenges to her qualifications for public office.

 Belmonte said it’s important that a presidential candidate like Roxas can pick someone he is comfortable with as a running mate.

Belmonte also said that while he prefers Poe to be Roxas’ vice president, he considers Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano as another wise choice “if the field is wide open.”

“He’s not particularly a good friend of mine, we just work together. I was closer to his father who was my contemporary, but I still can see his qualifications,” Belmonte said. Cayetano’s late father, Renato, was also a senator.

He said Philippine politics needs someone like Cayetano who “is a fighter” who finishes what he sets into motion like an advocacy or an investigation. He said that there are “too many polite” Filipino politicians.

Cayetano belongs to the Nacionalista Party (NP), headed by former senator Manuel Villar Jr.

Some Roxas supporters claim that if their presidential candidate recruits Cayetano as his running mate, he might get the support of Villar’s party.

Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar, only son of the NP leader, is reportedly eyeing a senatorial run in 2016.

Roxas, for his part, said he values the opinion of Belmonte but stressed he won’t invite another individual to be his running mate until he is finished with Poe.

Sen. Serge Osmeña III earlier said Roxas should move on and train his attention on Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo.

“Maybe he should learn to call a spade a spade. It’s always painful to be rejected by a woman, but sometimes you have to move on,” Osmeña said.

Earlier, Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto declared she was not interested in running for vice president next year.

Open to Plan B

Cayetano said he doesn’t mind being considered LP’s Plan B in the party’s search for vice president.

“I sincerely thank House Speaker Belmonte for his gracious words and for his work for our country. I value his advice, may it be private or personal,” he told reporters yesterday.

“He is one of the most effective and decent public officials in the land. He is a fierce advocate, yet always a statesman,” he said.

Cayetano said he has not talked to Belmonte or anyone from the LP yet and that he has also not yet made up his mind about what road to take in next year’s elections.

At this point, Cayetano maintained he is still eyeing the presidency, something he told his fellow NP colleague Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV yesterday.

Trillanes is eyeing the vice presidency and is awaiting word from NP on what it intends to do in the 2016 elections.

In the past few months, Cayetano’s name has emerged as possible vice presidential candidate, making the situation even more complicated for the NP.

Trillanes has emphasized that with or without the support of the NP, he would push through with his bid as an independent candidate.

Cayetano said he is open to a possible run for vice president, even with a different party under the administration coalition.

He said the NP is still open to continuing the coalition with the LP but at this point, it is still too early to tell where things would go for the two parties.

Cayetano said he respects the internal processes of the LP, particularly its effort to entice Poe to be its vice presidential candidate.

“I am not sensitive because it’s not like a marriage that lasts a lifetime so you have to be the first choice,” Cayetano said of his being considered a second choice after Poe.

“It’s a politically wise move for Secretary Mar and the President to go after Senator Poe because she is a leading candidate for president,” he said.

“So if anyone at all convinces her to be their vice president, they get two in one: they get a very good vice presidential candidate and they would take away an opponent for president,” he said.

No VP bid for Noy

On suggestions that LP pick President Aquino as its vice presidential candidate, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Chief Executive would definitely retire from politics after the end of his term on June 30.

“President Aquino has previously stated that he would like to retire from public office when his term ends at noon of June 30, 2016, and to the best of my knowledge, he has made no comments to the contrary,” Coloma said.

On Belmonte’s declaring his openness to a Cayetano vice presidency, Coloma said the Speaker was “entitled to express his views and give his inputs to their organization” as leader of the LP.

Belmonte and other House leaders also said they do not think President Aquino would agree to run for vice president of his preferred successor.

It was Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Dasmariñas City in Cavite who had suggested that Aquino run in tandem with Roxas in case Poe finally rejects LP’s offer.

“P-Noy has done his job. I am against him running for vice president,” Belmonte said in a text message.

Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said Aquino’s sense of propriety would prevent him from aspiring for any other office after his term ends on June 30, 2016.

“It is beneath his character to run for another position once his tenure expires,” he said.

For his part, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said Aquino deserves rest “after doing a great job in reforming the country and moving the economy forward.”

“He has done his part, let him have a well-deserved break,” he said.

For Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., getting Aquino to run in tandem with Roxas is a sign of desperation on the part of LP.

“It would appear that no one wants to run alongside Mar (Roxas) and it would not be a wise move to make the President run for vice president,” Marcos said.

Marcos said he would like to see Roxas to advise him against even entertaining such arrangement.

“For me, it looks like a desperate move,” he said. He added the issue may only be a trial balloon aimed at getting the sentiments of the public.

For Vice President Jejomar Binay, the opposition’s presidential bet, the scenario was unbelievable.

“Let’s just say that it never crossed my mind. I couldn’t believe such scenario where a former president will run for vice president,” Binay told reporters in Filipino during an interview in Makati City.

Meanwhile, Coloma said he welcomed efforts of Erice “to clear the air” with Poe following the latter’s accusing some LP members of backstabbing.

“He (Erice) has already stated his views on the matter,” Coloma said.

“As far as we know, Congressman Erice has been forthright in his statements on his preference for Poe to be vice president,” he added.

Erice said former Negros Oriental congressman Jacinto Paras had phoned him to ask if the latter could contribute P25,000 to the required P50,000 filing fee for the case filed against Poe before the Senate Electoral Tribunal questioning the senator’s citizenship and residency status. Defeated senatorial candidate Rizalito David filed the case.

Paras, who supported Poe’s father the late Fernando Poe Jr. when he ran for president in 2004, denied giving the money, but reiterated he would question the senator’s citizenship and residency requirement if ever she decides to run for president in 2016. Aurea Calica, Marvin Sy, Jess Diaz, Helen Flores, Edith Regalado

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